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Ua Sophie 
w^Uh Cove,. 

© Brendon Naicker 2008. 

The right of Brendon Naicker to be identified as author of this 

work has been asserted by Lumiere Press in accordance with 

the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. 

ISBN: 978-0-9558412-0-0 

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be 

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Foreword 4 

Introduction 6 

Definition and Origin 8 

The Qualifications of an Apostle 12 

The Functions of the Apostolate 14 

Historical Reflection 1 8 

BibUcal Reflection 29 

The Post New Testament Writings 58 

Controversial Passages 64 

Apostolic Practice 82 

Modem Apostles 90 

Biblical vs. Modem Model System of Government 95 

Conclusion 105 

Bibliography 107 


As a maverick mission worker, I had tlie opportunity to work under 
Brendon's mimstiy. My wife and I walked the streets of Brendon's 
community, sharing the message of God's Word, door-to-door. At 
the home of a persnickety older gentleman, my wife and I soon 
found oui'selves in an excited discussion (this is a nice way of saying, 
"heated ai'gument"). I will never forget the way that Brendon — an 
experienced minister — held his knowledge at bay. He allowed two 
frazzled Americans to face a salvo of tlieological contentions. Witli 
defeat on oiii" mind, Brendon advised us on how to better our 
approach in the next situation. He encouraged oui" mmistty as a 
maiTied couple. As he writes m tlie upcoming pages: 

"Christ's authority flows through the mature Christian and 
others recognise the merit and worth of that authority. 
Divine authority is never in a hierarchy nor found in an 
office or position. Its source is the indwelling Spirit. " 

Brendon is a practicing advocate of his own teacliing. The goal of 
his mmishy is not to climb tlie "chiii'ch ladder." He knows who is at 
work within his family's life, and he knows that the Great Worker 
did not die so tliat we could find authority. Chiist died so tliat we 
can have life and be able to share tlie message of life to those around 
us. Brendon's ministry is to build — not to build upon his reputation; 
not to add more designations to his name. I will never forget the way 
he showed that "indwelling Spu'it." 

As I listened to his advice that day, I knew I wasn't listening to a 
preacher. I was listening to a builder. The honest advice he gave me 
was the veiy essence of ministiy. I honestly believe tliat this spirit is 
what urged Brendon to create tins work. As he discusses the role of 
apostlesliip from the days of die Pentecost to tlie high-profile 
mimsters of today, notice the tone. Notice how badly Brendon 
rejects contemporary attributions of status withm the church. 

Most importantly, treat tlie above quote witli the attention it 
deserves. Whetlier we call our chiii'ch leaders "apostles," 
"disciples," "preachers," or the like, let's remember why we name 
oiir leaders at all. Jesus Christ named his direct followers both 
"disciples" and "apostles." These are coveted titles m today's 
church, correct? However, tlie Lord gave special names to men 
whose merit wairanted tlie association. To climb God's ladder 
requires such short titles. In fact, don't the servants achieve the 
highest rank m His kingdom? This is simplistic — but true. As for the 
persnickety older gentleman, I have but one desire: I pray that we 
will meet him On High. 

Shane Gottwals 

Wamer Robins, GA, USA 

A special thank you to Brendon Naicker, who has diligently argued 
the biblical exposition on Apostles. Tliis contemporary version is 
reader friendly, theologically sound and a must for every Christian. It 
is gratifying to know a new generation of Christians are serious 
about hermeneutics and ai'e "rightly dividing the Word of hiitli." 
Tliis book IS not tlie Bible but is intended to pomt you to tlie Bible. 
One of the great needs in the church today is to retimi to tlie 
scriptLires as tlie basis of autliority. May this book unlock for you the 
treasures and insights that are foimd m the Word of God. William 
Lyon Phelps, called the most beloved professor in America, and one 
time president of Yale Umversity, made the oft-quoted statement: 

"I thoroughly believe in a university education for both men and 
women; but I believe a knowledge of the Bible without a college 
course is more valuable than a college course without the Bible." 

It is sad tliat, although the Bible is an available, open book, it is a 
closed book to millions. Tliis book Apostles will make die reading 
and study of God's Word interesting, challenging and inspirmg. 
I commend it to you for your prayerful study. 

Rev. Clement Joseph 
South A&ica 


There is much confusion in the contemporary sphere on tlie subject 

of apostles. This is mainly due to the climate of deep disagreement 

and resentment over some Chi'istian leaders who are acknowledged 

by many to be modem-day apostles. Paul mentions in Ephesians 


And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, 
evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the 
saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of 
Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the 
knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure 
of the stature of the fullness of Christ. ' 

Although most Pentecostals refer to these as "five-fold," 
otliers see them as "fourfold," combining the mmistries of pastor and 
teacher into one. These "ascension gifts"-as they are called in 
traditional churches -were given to die Chui'ch after Jesus ascended to 
the Father to extend, guide, and mature tlie Chui'ch. We can assmne 
that, at the time Paul wrote, the New Testament church had a clear 
understandmg of what these offices required, how tliey operated, and 
who filled them. However, with the passing of time, die role and 
operation of diese ministries in tlie eveiyday life of the church 
became less clear. 

The Holy Bible: King James Version (Oak Harbour, WA: Logos Reseai'ch Systems, Iiic, 
1995), Eph 4:11-13. 

When considering tlie five-fold ministries, the average 
believer can understand that pastors care for tlieu" flock, evangelists 
preach to the unconverted, teachers instruct theu" students, and 
prophets prophesy tlie Word of God. But what do apostles do to 
show they are apostles? Are there apostles today? This book explores 
the nature of the apostolic office as revealed in the scripture. It also 
examines the biblical foundation and contemporary teaclimg on the 
natiu'e and minishy of these modem-day apostles. In so doing, it 
seeks to provide an answer as to die basis for affitining the existence 
of apostles today. 


The term "apostle" is almost excliisively found in tlie New 
Testament, where it occurs seventy-nine tunes: ten in tlie Gospels, 
twenty-eight in Acts, thirty-eight in the Epistles, and thi'ee m 
Revelation." The early Christian title of "apostle"-althoiigh well 
attested in tlie New Testament and otlier early Cliristian soLirces- 
presents a number of still unresolved problems. The noun "apostle" 
or (apostolos) in Latin is originally an adjective derived from die 

verb apostello ("send"), found in tlie New Testament with a 
considerable range of meanings. The basic concept is that of sending 
messengers or envoys; an apostle can also be called angelos 

("messenger,"e.g. Luke 7:24; 9:52) or kcnix ("herald," e.g. 1 Tim 
2:7; 2 Tim 1:11; cf. Mai'k 1:45, 2 Cor 5:20). 

Apostles can be human or divine-sent by human or divine 
authorities. The original adjective apostolos is attested only 
infrequently m Greek literatui'e, refeiTuig to an envoy or a beai'er of a 
message m a general sense.' Tliis technical meaning conforms to the 

Aramaic scUah (Ezra 7:14, Dan 5:24; cf 2 Chi- 17:7-9).^ In the 
Hellenistic Era, tlie concept of the divuie envoy was applied by 
Epictetus to the ideal cyiiic,^ but the term apostolos does not occur. 
Christianity, therefore, appears to have picked a secular tenn and 

' Everett F. HaiTisoii, "Apostle, Apostleship," in Evangelical Dictionaiy of Theology, ed. 
Walter A. Elwell (Grand Ri^Dids MI: Baker, 1996), 70-72. 

Cited ill DavidNoel. Freeduiaii, The Anchor Bible Dictionaiy (New York: Doubleday, 1996), 
56 e.g., Herodotus 1.21; Plato, Ep. 7.346a. 


C. Spicq, "Notes de lexicognq>liie neo-testaineutaiie supplement" in Orbis biblicus et 
onentabs llIZ, (Freiburg: Editions univeisitaiies: Gottiugen, 1982), 54-63. 

made it into a specific office and title. There are over 80 occuiTences 
of the Greek word apostolos in the New Testament-"to send" in die 
Lukan and Pauline writings. It derives from die very common verb 
apostelld to send, but in non-Christian Greek, after Herodotus m the 
5* centuiy BC, tliere are few recorded cases where it means "a 
person sent." It generally means "fleet" or perhaps occasionally 

The New Testament and the early patristic literatui'e also 
attempt to define it. Since scholarship is still divided on many of tlie 
questions, die following definitions must be seen as part of tlie 
argument and not as fmal answers. The basic definition given by 
Origen is, "Everyone who is sent by someone is an apostle of the one 
who sent tum."* This concept involves legal and administrative 
aspects and is basic to all types of representatives, envoys, and 
ambassadors. Origen's definition is grovrnded in die New Testament 
itself; e.g. Jolm 13:16: "Tn.ily, ttiily I say to you, a seiTant is not 
greater tlian his master; nor is he who is sent greater dian die one 
who sent him" (cf also Matt 10:40-42, Gal 4: 14). 

More specific is the definition given in Acts 1:21-22, 
according to wliicli an apostle must be "one of the men who has 
accompanied us during all the time tliat the Lord Jesus went in and 
out among us, beginning from the baptism of Jolin until tlie day 

Cited ill DavidNoel. Freedman, The Anchor Bible Dictionary (New York: Doubleday, 1996), 
56 (Diss. 3.22.3; 4.8.31). 

R. Schuackeiiburg, "Apostles before aiid during Paul's Time" m Apostolic History and the 
Go?pe/(Gi-!uidRapids:GasqiieaiidMai1m 1970), 287-303 cites (Jo. 32.17, Pieuschen 1903: 
453, line 17). 

when he was taken up from us . . ." Paul mentions (2 Cor 12:12; cf. 
Rom 15:19; Acts 5:12) the practice of the apostle legitimating 

himself by "the signs of the apostle" (ta senieia ton apostolou): i.e. 
"by signs and miracles and wondrous deeds." hi tlie Petrine 
traditions, tlie task of the apostle is seen as transmitting the words of 
the prophets and of JesLis to the church (2 Pet 3:2; cf die prophetic 
function of the apostles in Jude 17). 

Paul did not conform to any of tliese definitions, a fact that 
explains his position as an outsider and tlie difficulties he had 
obtaining recognition.^ The sense of "sent one, messenger" may have 
survived in popular" speech: at least, isolated occuiTences m the 
Septuagint and Josephus suggest that this meaning was recogmsed in 
Jewish circles. Only with Christian literatiire, however, does it come 
into its own. In New Testament it is applied to Jesus as the Sent One 
of God (Heb. 3: 1 ), those sent by God to preach to Israel (Lk. 1 1 : 49), 
and those sent by churches (2 Cor. 8:23; Phil. 2:25). Above all, it is 
applied absolutely to the group of men who held the supreme dignity 

in die primitive chiii'ch^ Smce apostcllo seems frequently to mean, 
"to send wMi a particular pi.irpose"-as distuict from the neutral 
pempo (save m the Johannme writings, where die two are 

synonyms)-the force oiapostolos is probably "one commissioned" — 
it is implied, by Clirist. 

DavidN. Freedman, The Anchor Bible Dictionary {New York: Doubleday, 1996), 56. 
J. R. WiWiaras, Renewal Theology ///{GiandRiqiids: ZondeiTaii, 1992), 165. 

It is disputed whether apostolos represents iti New 
Testament a Jewish term of similar" technical force. Rengstorf, in 
particular', has elaborated the tlieoiy tliat it reflects the Jewish sdllalt, 
an accredited representative of religious autliority, entrusted with 
messages and money and empowered to act on behalf of tlie 
authority; and Gregory Drx and otliers have applied ideas and 

expressions belonging to tlie sdliah, concept (e.g. a man's sdlialj is 
as himself) to the apostolate and eventually to the modem 
episcopate.^ Such a process is full of perils, and not least because 

there is no clear evidence tliat sdliah was used m this sense Lmtil 

post-apostolic times. Apostolos, m fact, may well be the earlier as a 
technical term, and it is safest to seek its sigmficance in the meaning 
of apostello and from die contexts of tlie New Testament 
occurrences. '° 


J. A. Krik, "Apostleship since Reugstoii" mNew Testament Studies, 21:249—64 (Cambridge: 
Cambridge Uuiversily Press, 1974), 75. 

D. R. W. Wood, aiid I. Howard Marshall, New Bible Dictionaiy (Dowuers Grove: 
IiiterVarsity Press, 1996), 50-8. 


When one assembles all the relevant New Testament data, at least 
three qualifications emerge as prerequisite to one becoming an 
apostle in the official sense. Fu'st, an apostle had to have seen the 
Lord and been an eyewitness of Clirist's resurrection (Acts 1:22; 
22:14, 1 Corintliians 9:1). Second, an apostle had to be specifically 
selected by tlie Lord or tlie Holy Spirit." Third, an apostle was 
invested witli miraculous power to the extent that he could perform 
miracles. The power to perform mu'acles included the capability to 
confer the ability to work miracles to other individuals through tlie 
laying on of his hands. '- Jesus refen'ed to His bestowal of 
miraculous capability upon the apostles when He promised they 
would be "endued with power from on liigh"(Li.ike 24: 49). '^ 

However, the essential qualification of an apostle is the 
divine call, flie commissioning by Clirist. In tlie case of the Twelve, 
this was given dining his earthly ministry. But with Matthias, the 
sense of the divine commissioning is not less evident: God had 
already chosen tlie apostle (Acts 1:24), even tliough liis choice was 
not yet known. Paul equally insists on his direct commission from 
Christ (Rom. 1:1; 1 Cor. 1:1; Gal. 1:1, 15). He in no sense derived 

" See references: (Matthew 10:5; Maik 3:13-14; Luke 6:13; Acts 1:26; 9:15; 22:14-15,21, 

'"See references: (Mai-k3:15; 16:17-20; Luke 9:1-2; John 14:12,26; 15:24-27; 16:13; Acts 
2:43; 4:29-31,33; 5:12,15-16; 8:14-18; 19:6; 2 Timothy 1:6; Romans 1:11; Hebrews 2:3-4). 

These qualifications are discussed in detail by J. B. Lightfoot, The Epistle of St. Paul to the 
Qalatians (Grand R^ids: Zoudei-van, 1957), 92-101, under the chapter title, "The Name and 
Office of an Apostle. " See also; Hayden, 1894, 33, expands these credentials to seven in 

his autiiority from the other apostles; like Matthias, he was accepted, 
not appointed by them. He did not fulfil the qualifications of Acts 
1:21, but the Damascus Road experience was a resurrection 
appearance (1 Cor. 15:8), and he could claim to have "seen the Lord" 
(1 Cor. 9:1); he was tlius a witness of tlie resurrection. He remained 
conscious tliat liis background — an enemy and persecutor, rather 
than a disciple — was different from that of the otlier apostles, but he 
counts himself with tlieit" nmnber and associates tliem with liis own 
gospel (1 Cor. 15:8-11)." 


I. Howard Marshall, New Bible Dictionary (Dowiiers Gfove: InterVaisity Press, 1996), 59. 


Mark's first specification on the choice of tlie Twelve is for them "to 
be with him" (Mk. 3:14). It is no accident that tlie watershed of 
Mark's Gospel is the apostolic confession of the Messiahship of 
Jesus (Mk. 8:29), or tliat Matthew follows tliis with tlie "Rock" 
saying about the apostolic confession (Mt. 16:18f). The primaiy 
function of tlie apostles was witness to Christ, and the witness was 
rooted in years of intimate knowledge, deai'ly bought experience, and 
intensive training. This is complementary to their widely recogmsed 
function of witness to the resurrection (Acts 1:22, 2:32, 3:15, 13:31), 
for die special significance of the resurrection lies not m the event 
itself, but in its demonstration in fulfilment of prophecy and of tlie 
identity of tlie slam Jesus {cf. Acts 2:24- 36; 3:26, Rom. 1:4). 

Theu" witness of the resurrection of Clirist made them 
effective witnesses to his Person, and he himself commissions them 
to worldwide witness (Acts 1:8). The same commission mtroduces a 
factor of profound importance for the apostolate: the coming of the 
Spirit. Cui'iously enough, this is most fully tt'eated m John 14-17, 
wliich does not use tlie word "apostle" at all. This is die great 

commissioning discoui'se of the Twelve (apostello and pcmpo are 
used widiout discrimination): theu" commission from Jesus is as real 
as liis own from God (In. 20:21). They are to bear witness from dieir 
long acquaintance with Jesus, yet the Spirit beat's witness of Mm (Jn 

He will remind them of tlie words of Jesus (Jn. 1 4: 26), guide 
them into all the tiaitli (a promise often peiTeited by extending its 
primary reference beyond the apostles), and show them the age to 
come (of tlie church) and Christ's glory (Jn. 16:13-15). Instances are 
given in the fourth Gospel of this process, where the significance of 
words or actions was recalled only after Christ's "glorification" (Jn. 
2:22; 12:16, 7:39). That is, the witness of the apostles to Chi'ist is not 
left to tlieu" impressions and recollections but to the gmdance of the 
Holy Spu'it, whose witness it is also — a fact of consequence in 
assessing the recorded apostolic witness in tlie Gospels. 

In theu" own day tliey were regarded as "pillai's" (Gal. 2:9 — 
perhaps translate "marking posts'').'^ The church is built on tlie 
foundation of the apostles and prophets (Eph. 2:20-probably tlie 
witness of tlie Old Testament is intended, but tlie point remams if 
Christian prophets are in mind). The apostles are the assessors at tlie 
Messianic judgment (Mt. 19:28), and tlieir names are engraved on 
the foundation stones of tlie Holy City (Rev. 21:14). Apostolic 
docti'ine, however origmating as it does with the Holy Spirit-is tlie 
common witness of the apostles, not the perquisite of any individual. 
For the common preacliing'^ of tlie Old Testament, tlie chief apostle 
could by implication betray a fundamental principle he had accepted 
and be withstood by a colleague (Gal. 2:11). '^ 

'^ C. K. BmrM, ia Studia Paulina, 1953, Iff 

C. H. Dodd, The Apostolic Pmaching and its developments, 36 
C. H. DoAA, According to the Scriptures, 98 

Healing and other spectacular gifts, such as prophecy and 
tongues, are abundantly attested in the apostolic chiu'ch-related, like 
the apostohc witness, to the special dispensation of the Holy Spuit. 
They are strangely missing in the 2nd-centuiy chiu'ch, tlie writers of 
those days speaking of tliem as a thing of the past — in tlie apostolic 
age, in fact. '^ Even in the New Testament, we see no signs of these 
gifts except where apostles have been at work. Even where there has 
previously been genuine faith, it is only in the presence of apostles 
that these gifts of the Spirit are showered down (Acts 8:14ff,19:6 — 
the contexts show tliat visual and audible phenomena are m 

By contrast, tlie New Testament has less to say than might 
be expected of the apostles as iiilmg the church. They are tlie 
touchstones of dochine, the puiTcyors of tlie authentic hadition 
about Christ: apostolic delegates visit congregations which reflect 
new departui'es for the chui'ch (Acts 8:14ff; ll:22ff). However the 
Twelve did not appoint tlie Seven, the cn.icial Jeiiisalem Council 
consisted of a large number of elders as well as the apostles (Acts 
15:6, 12, 22) and two apostles seized among tlie "prophets and 
teachers" of die chui'ch at Antioch (Acts 13:1). Government was a 
distinct gift (1 Cor. 12:28), normally exercised by local elders; 
apostles were, by vit'tue of their commission, mobile. They are not 
even prominent in the administration of the sacraments {cf. 1 Cor. 

J. S. McEwau, "Apostles", in Scottish Journal of Theology 7, 1954, 133ff.: See also B. B. 
Warfield, Miracles Yesterday and Today, (Banner of Truth: London, 1967), 53. 

1:14). The identity of function which some see between apostle and 
2nd-century bishop is by no means obvious. ^^ 

K.EKirk, The Apostolic Mimstiy (London: Hodder aud Stoughtou, 1946), 10. 


Thus, for centui'ies, the offices of pastor and teacher have been 
famihar ministries in all chiu'ches. However, only smce tlie middle of 
the nineteenth centuiy, with the success of Charles Firmey and otlier 
"professional" evangelists of that day, has the office of evangelist 
gained a populai" understanding and acceptance. The offices of 
apostle and prophet have been more elusive for modern Cliristians. 
Many have accepted a belief developed tliroughout tlie centiiries tliat 
the age of the apostles and prophets ended ai'OLmd 96 AD, about the 
time Jolm, tlie last apostle, died. Anotlier belief, first stated by St. 
Augustme (and later retracted), has been widely accepted along with 
this. It holds that, wMi the completion of the canon of Scripture, the 
Lord witlidrew miraculous gifts of the Spirit such as tongues, 
prophecy and healing . '" 

Over time, as the bishops consolidated their power in the 
church, tlie office of apostle was almost forgotten. By tlie second 
century, apostles and prophets were seen as notliing more than 
travelling medicine men with little or no influence or authority. In 
spite of cessationist views and tlie low esteem shown to those who 
claimed to be apostles, the idea of an enduring apostleship continued 
to surface sporadically throughout chui'ch history. For example, 
Maiii of Persia (216-274), founder of the Mamchee sect, called 
himself the "Apostle of Light" — the last apostle of Jesus Christ, he 
said, who would ever appear. Like Mani, whose dualistic religion the 

Jon Riithven, On the Cessation of the Charismata (Sheffield, England: Sheffield Academic 
Press, 1997), 206. 

church rejected as heretical, most people in church history who have 
claimed to be new apostles have been branded as heretics and 
excommunicated from the church. (Mohammed also claimed to be 
the last apostle and prophet for all tune ) 

Other so-called "end-time apostles," such as Joseph Smith, 
have appeai'ed over the centuries and have been rejected. 
Nevertheless, tlie question of whetlier there ai'e contemporary 
apostles has refused to die. In fact, the modem debate is as lively as 
ever."^ Since 1901, despite long-standmg cessation tlieories, 
Pentecostals and Charismatics have loudly proclaimed tliat the 
chai'ismata, or gifts of tlie Spuit, are a present-day reality in the 
church. Millions of modem-day Christians speak in tongues, 
prophesy, cast out demons, and pray for the sick with an expectation 
of divine healing. These gifts of the Spirit ai'e regarded as part of the 
modem Christian experience in a large percentage of the churches of 

The question many Cluistians are now asking is this: "If the 
charismata has been restored, why have not the prophets and apostles 
— those offices that the Lord liimself set in the chui'ch — also been 
restored?" As with the gifts of the Spirit, the dispensational limit on 
the exercise of these offices seems to be more man-made than 
biblical. Prophecy has been an integral feature of most Pentecostal 
and charismatic movements through tlie yeai's. Until recently. 

David Caitledge, The Apostolic Revolution: The Restoration of Apostles and Prophets in the 
Assemblies of God in Australia (Chester Hill, NSW, Australia: Paraclete Institute, 2000). This 
book tiaces the evolution of church structure in the Austialian Assemblies of God aud provides 
a rationale foi' these developments. 

however, there has been an extreme reluctance to recognise the 
office of prophet, although some were ordained to die prophetic 
office in die Latter Rain movement of tiie late 1940's and 1950'3." 
In the New Testament, a variety of ministers bore the title of apostle: 

The Unique Apostle - Jesus 
Hebrews 3:1 speaks of Jesus as ''the apostle and high priest of oui" 
profession." He, indeed, was one sent on a special mission to save 
the world. Of course, there will be no other apostle like the Son of 
God. He is miique and stands alone."' 

The Twelve Apostles 
The Bible seems to place "The Twelve" in a unique category as welL 
This special group of messengers is without parallel in church 
history; their unique ministry will never be repeated. Some call these 
the "apostles of Cluist" or the "apostles of the Lamb" because they 
saw Jesus witli theii" own eyes and were witnesses of His resuiTection 
(Acts 1:21,22). To these twelve men, Jesus promised a special place 
in the Kingdom: "You who have followed me will also sit on twelve 
tlii'ones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel" (Matt. 19:28). 

" Jay Atkinson, "Apostles" in Latter Rain Page, see internet source littp : //latter- 
rain . c om/in dex . htm 1 accessed on 26/02/2008. 
' J. R, Williams, Renewal Theology (Grand Ri^ids: Zondervan, 1992), m, 165. 

The "Petrine Theory" 

The Petrine theory states tliat Simon Peter was given a place of 
primacy among tlie Twelve; his successors have been the popes. All 
odier bishops are "successors to tlie apostles" and exercise a 
magisterial, pastoral, and teaching autliority tliat has been handed 
down from generation to generation. Thus, in Cathohc tlieology, all 
ecclesiastical power is derived from prior generations through 
apostolic succession. There are no apostles as such in succeeding 
generations, though all autliority in the Chiirch stems from apostolic 
succession. Witli the exception of tlie claim to papal authority, this 
also represents tlie general belief of the Orthodox churches. 
Nevertheless, this view has not kept tlie Catholic Chvirch from 
recogmsing apostolic-like mmistries over tlie centuries.""' 

For instance, missionaries who were the fu'st to brmg the 
gospel to a new people group have been called "apostles" to that 
group. Thus, Augustine of Canterbury is called tlie "Apostle to 
England," and St. Patrick is called the "Apostle to Ireland." This 
tradition is as old as Paul, who called himself "an Apostle to tlie 
Gentiles." Over tlie centuries, tliere have been thousands of these 
"apostles to [(whatever locale)]." Even today, some conduct 
apostolic mimstry among remote hibes and peoples. The Protestant 
Refoniiers rejected the Catholic view of apostolic succession and 
busied themselves witli tlie new movement they foimded. Most 
believed that the office of apostle had ended with tlie Eai'ly Chui'ch, 

Peter N. Steams, The Encyclopedia of World Histoiy: Ancient, Medieval, and Modern 
(Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2001), 67. 

with no "successors" as in the Cathohc ti'adition."^ Some Reformers, 
such as Jolin Calvin, thought tliat apostles might reappear" under 
certain cii'cumstances. 

In his Institutes of the Christian Religion^ Calvui wrote that 
the Lord "now and again revives tliem [(apostles, prophets and 
evangehsts)] as die need of the times demands." These offices, 
however, have no place in "duly-constituted chiu'ches," he added. In 
a similar vein, Luther believed "tlie apostolic message rather than the 
office" would remam in tlie church. A little-known instance of 
Protestants sending out "apostles" as missionaries occiuTed among 
the Baptists ui Colonial America. For a time. Baptists m New 
England ordained "apostles" as missionaries to such southern 
colonies as Virginia, Carolina and Georgia. After some time, 
however, the teim "apostle" was di"opped for the more traditional 
term "missionary." 

In general, Protestants have been prone to refer to founders 
of movements and doctrinal systems as "apostles of certain 
movements or tlieological views.-* Thus, Lutlier is often called die 
"Apostle of die Reformation," or the "Apostle of Justification by 
Faith." Similarly, Calvin lias been called the "Apostle of Reformed 
Christianity," while Wesley is known as die "Apostle of 
Methodism." Eveiy denomination seems to have an "apostle" who 

^^ Dave Merck, Church History (Graud R^ids: MI, Reformed B^tist Church, 2004) 37-9. 
Tallies A. Wiley, The History of Protestantism {London: Longmans, Gi'een, 1877), 77. 

served as the founder of the ecclesial body, usually based on a new 
and unique teacliing from Scriptui'e. 

The Restorationist Movement 

In the nineteenth century, a "Restorationist movement" began iti 
Britain witli the avowed purpose of restoring all aspects of New 
Testament Cliristiamty to tlie modein chui'ch. Lewis Way, John 
Nelson Darby, Edward Irvmg, and others pioneered a restoration of 
the chai'ismata (such as glossolalia and prophecy). The movement 
culmmated in the creation of the Catliolic Apostolic Chui'ch in 
1832.'^ In addition to the manifestation of the gifts of the Spirit, the 
church attempted to restore tlie five-fold mmistries, including tlie 
office of apostle. In due time, the chui'ch ordained twelve "apostles" 
who were to be tlie end-times equivalent of the Twelve chosen by 
Christ. According to their prophecies, this group would be the last 
apostles to exist before the rapture of the church.-^ 

Eventually, however, these apostles died. When the last one 
died in 1901, die British chui'ch collapsed and practically 
disappeai'ed. Only m Gennany were new apostles ordained to 
succeed tliose who had passed away. Tliis chiii'ch took tlie name 
"New Apostolic Church" and is today the third largest body of 
Christians in Germany (after the Catholic and Lutheran chui'ches). 
Another sad case of a modem "apostle" who went over tlie hill was 

James E. Worsfold, The Ongins of the Apostolic Church in Oreat Britain: With a Breviate 
of Its Early Missionary Endeavours (WeWmgton, New Zealand: Julian Literature Trust, 1991), 

James Bales, The Kingdom: Prophesied and Established (Austin, TX: Film Foundation, 
1957), 208-10. 

Alexander Dowie, who claimed tlie titles of "apostle" and "Elijah the 
restorer" just before sinking into dementia. The earliest name chosen 
by the Pentecostal movement m America was "Apostolic Faith," a 
designation given by Charles Parham to Ins church m Topeka, 
Kansas. It was here, m 1901 that modem Pentecostalism, with its 
emphasis on the baptism in the Holy Spirit as evidenced by speaking 
in otlier tongues, began. Pailiam's student, William J. Seymour, 
chose tlie same name for his Azusa Street Mission iii Los Angeles in 

The Apostolic Faith 
In this context, "Apostolic Faitli" did not signal a move to restore the 
office of apostle to the church. Pai'ham, m fact, was extremely 
critical of any kind of chvirch government, especially a liighly 
centralised system with apostolic autliority. Yet, there are those who 
refer to him as tlie "Apostle of Pentecost." In the years that followed 
the glory days at Azusa Street, Pentecostal missionaries travelled 
around the world preaching the "latter rain" message of a mighty 
"Holy Ghost outpouring" that would occur before the Second 
Coming of Christ. A new generation of Pentecostal "apostles" 
appeared. They mcluded G.B. Cashwell, the "Apostle to the soutli", 
T.B. Barratt, the "Apostle to Europe", W.C. Hoover, the "Apostle to 
Chile", Ivan Voronaev, the "Apostle to tlie Slavs" and Luigi 
Francescon, the "Apostle to Italy." Other early Pentecostal groups 
claimed to restore the office of apostle to tlie church. These mcluded 
"apostolic churches" in Wales, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and 

the United States, in which "apostles" were duly-elected and 
ordained along with any other office in tlie chiu'ch. 

Some of these contmue to this day, with colleges of apostles 
(usually twelve) tliat govern their denominations. The "New Order of 
the Latter Rain movement" of the late 1940's also populai'ised the 
restoration of tlie "five-fold mimstries" m preparation for the 
revelation of tlie "Manifested Sons Company." They claimed, would 
rule and reign at the end of the Church Age."^ Prominent among this 
elite group would be prophets and apostles. Overall, however, 
Pentecostals have been far more interested in restoring tlie 
charismata tlian in restormg any type of ecclesiastical offices to the 
church. In the words of David du Plessis, "Pentecostals ai'e more 
interested in apostolic success ratlier tlian in apostolic succession." 

The Independent Charismatic Views 
Many independent charismatics have developed a tliirst for the 
restoration of apostolic authority in the body of Chi'ist. They have 
produced vast sums of tapes and books that assert the five-fold 
mimstry must be restored m power to tlie modern chLirch. Indeed, 
many contemporaiy leaders freely claim to be "apostles." Some even 
have tlie title prmted on their stationery and business cards. In 
general, charismatics have defined apostolic mimstry as applying to 
any one who has a trans-local ministry, usually leaving tlie pastorate 
to itinerate in a teaching or chui'ch-planting ministiy. 

"' Colin Brown, New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Vol I (Gi'and 
Rapids, MI: Zoudei-van, 1986), 126. 

The New Apostolic Reformation 

In the last decade, Peter Wagner has led the "New Apostohc 
Refonnation movement," which he claims is now sweeping the 
world as tlie new way leaders are "doing chiu'ch." Tins movement 
came out of the "National Symposium on the Post-Denominational 
Church," a conference Wagner led at Fuller Theological Seminary in 
1996. After years of studying church growth m the "Post-Modem 
Age," Wagner concluded tliat the day of tlie historic denomination 
was rapidly coming to a close while a new generation of "post- 
denominational churches was dawning. Before the conference could 
convene, however, many critics of the idea, includmg Jack Hayford, 
forced Wagner to choose a new name. He fmally settled on the term 
"New Apostolic Churches" to describe what he called a 'New 
Testament model of leadership" or "new wineskins for a new Church 
Age." many think these chui'ches are new which are really "pre- 
denominational movements." 

hi his book. The New Apostolic Churches, Wagner listed 
eighteen pastors (or "apostles") who represented the new movement. 
Of these, only Bill Hybels, Michael Fletcher, and David Kim do not 
appear to have Pentecostal or chai'ismatic backgrounds. Most, such 
as Billy Joe Daugherty, Roberts Liardon, and William Kumuyi are 
openly Pentecostal or charismatic. Otliers have been part of the 
Pentecostal/charismatic renewal for years. Clearly most of the "New 
Apostolic Churches" liave their roots m classical Pentecostalism, 

In 1999, Wagner attempted to organise tlie movement mto an 
mnbrella grouping under the name "International Coalition of 
Apostles," with Wagner listed as tlie "Presiding Apostle." New 
"apostles" could join and pay $69 per montli membership dues. 
Wagner listed the many types of "apostles" who could be members, 
they included "Vertical apostles," which incorporated "ecclesiastical, 
functional, apostolic team members, and congregational apostles"; 
"Horizontal apostles," which mcluded: "convening, ambassadorial, 
mobilising, and territorial apostles"; "Marketplace 

apostles," (undefmed); "Calling apostles," which are those who call 
Christians together in unity by 2004. In his book. Aftershock! How 
the Second Apostolic Age is Changing the Church, Wagner made 
grandiose claims about tins new movement, claiming that the 
charismatic movement was "a vision unfulfilled" and that tlie new 
"apostolic renewal" movement had taken its place as the wave of the 

Since almost all of them operate in the gifts of tlie Spit'it, it 
seems that most of these networks were planted and inspired by the 
Pentecostal/charismatic movement in the first place. David Barrett 
previously listed most of them as "denominational Pentecostals" 
until his New World Cliristian Encyclopaedia designated tliem as 
"neo-charismatic." Rather tlian being part of a "New Apostolic 
Refonnation," most of them are actually part of the 
"Pentecostal/charismatic Refonnation." It seems that Wagner has 
tried to impose a new title for movements that were already dynamic 

churches originally mspired by tlie Pentecostals and to create an 
artificial apostolic structiu'e with himself as "Presiding Apostle." 
Although tliey claim to be only "apostolic networks," they are 
rapidly organising and developing structui'es under theu" claim of 
apostolic authority. 

Types of Apostles 

Hunter makes the rather startling claim that; "we may now claim to 
understand them (i.e. tlie parables) better than any Christians since 
the Apostolic Age."^** This comment is quoted because exactly the 
same thing may be said about our understanding of apostles m tlie 
New Testament. ^' Very early in Chiistian histoiy tlie idea prevailed 
that the twelve pkis Paul were apostles-no one else-since an 
encounter with the risen Clirist was essential to be an apostle, tliis 
mimstry was limited to die fu'st generation of Christians. It is, 
however, a far too limited view of what constitutes an apostle for, as 
we will see, die New Testament presents a much more varied and 
dynamic pictiire. 

Jesus the Archetypal Apostle 
Only once in die New Testament is Jesus explicitly called 
"Apostolos" and that is in the epistles to the Hebrews (3:1).^- This 
title may, however, reflect something of Jesus' own Lmderstandmg of 
his person and mission. Thus, in the Gospel of John, on some forty- 
one occasions, Jesus speaks of being "sent"^^ by God. Rengstorf goes 
so far as to say that in this Gospel Jesus' relationsliip to the Father is 

'" A. M. Huiitei-, The Pamblss Then and Now (Loudon: SCM, 1971), 17- 
'' Ibid. 9 
Justin Later, First Apology 12:9, 63:5 also calls itmis apostolos. 

apostellein is used 17 times, lOiA pempsin 24 times of this sending. The two verbs are 
synonyms in John. See L. Monus, Commentaiy on the Gospel of John (Grand Rq^ids: 
Eerdmans, 1971), 230, note 78. 

"very largely governed by the verb ''apostolein".'"'^'' John speaks of 
Jesus in this way to stress that his authority is grounded in tlie Father 
who participates m liis mission (5:36; 6:57). The corollary to this 
argument is that, "He who does not honour the Son does not honour 
the Fatiier who sent him" (5:23 cf. 15:23). 

This language takes up tlie Jewish idea that, "the one sent by 
a man is as tlie man himself. "^^ In Hebrew, as it has been frequently 
noted, tlie tenn for one officially sent as a representative is shaliach 
wliich is rendered in Gi'eek by tlie word apostolos. This means that in 
John, JesLis is presented as the authoritative representative of God 
himself who speaks and acts on his behalf ^^ These ideas are a 
development on what is foLmd in tlie Synoptic Gospels but here 
emphasis is placed on the sendmg of the son by the Fatlier and on his 
authoritative, representative role.^^ When Jesus departs from 
Capernaum he explams Ins actions by saying, "I must preach the 
good news of the kingdom of God to other cities also; for I was sent 

Geriiard Friedrich, Kittel, Gerhai'd, Geoffi-ey aud William Bromiley, Theological Dictionary 
of the New Testament, Vols. 1 (Gi'aiid Rapids, MI: Eerduiaiis, 1976), 443. 

Bei'. 5:5. Cited from Rengstoif s article, Ibid, 415. Tlie ai-gimieut, given classic expression 
by Rengstorf, that the NT use of the title jostle is to be explained in some measiiie in teiius of 
the Jewish shaliach institution has been sometimes abused aid often criticised. On this debate 
see J. A. Kiik, "Apostleship since Rengstorf," in }TTS, 21, 1975, 249-64. Witli Kii'k we agree 
that tlie parallels aie iiseful so long as it is seen tliat tlie two institutions ai'e analogous and not 

Tlie fact that John is aware of "the full identity" between tlie words apostolos and shaliach 
is seen in John 13:16. So Rengstorf, Ibid, 421. 

C. G. KiTise, Wew Testament Foundations for Ministry (London: Mai'shall Morgan and 
Scott, 1982), 13-23. 

[(apestalen)] for this purpose" (Lk. 4:43; Mk. 1:38).^^ In his sermon 
at Nazareth Jesus apphes the prophecy of Isaiah 61 : 1 -2 to liimself . 

'Today tliis scripture has been fulfilled in yoiu" hearing. The 
Spirit of the Lord is upon me ... he has sent me [(aposteilai)] to 
proclaim release to tlie captives" (Lk.4:18). Later m his ministry, 
when speaking to the Syi'ophoemcian women, he says, "I was sent 
[(apestalen)] only to tlie lost sheep of tlie house of Israel" (Mt. 
1 5: 24). And finally, ui the parable of tlie wicked husbandmen (which 
can be found in all tlii'ee Synoptic Gospels), Jesus, it would seem, 
alludes to his mission when he speaks of tlie Fatlier sending his Son 
(Mk. 12:1-11). The Jewish idea tliat a man's officially appointed 
representative (shaliach) stands in liis place is also used in the 
S5'noptics to explain Jesus' own autliority and that of his disciples. 

In liis mission chai'ge Jesus says to his disciples, "He who 
receives you receives me and he who receives me receives Mm who 
sent me" (Mt. 10:40 cf Lk. 10:16). Similarly, m response to the 
disciples' debate about greatness, Jesus says, "Whoever receives one 
such cliild m my name receives me and whoever receives me 
receives not me but him who sent me (Mk. 9:37 cf Lk. 9:37; Mt. 
18:5). These twin themes found in John and tlie Synoptics suggest 
that Jesus was deeply conscious that he had been "sent" by God and 

Knise, Ibid, 74-/5 points out tliat wliereas Mk. 1:38 only suggests that Jesus "caiiie out" 
from God this is explicitly stated in Lk. 4:43. The repeated use of the verb in these passages in 
John and the Synoptic is inteiesting in the light of the fact that it has often been aigued that the 
NT use of apostohs is derived not fiom the Hebiewbut fioni aiuiique development of the 
cognate verb aposfe//ejw. So H. Mosbech,"Apostolos in the New Testament", in St. TheoL, 2, 
1948, 166: L. Cerfaux, The Chnstian in the Theology of St. Paul (New York: Chiqiman, 1967), 
120 et al. Tliese opinions on how the word aposfo/oi' came to be used in the NT need not be 
exclusive solutions for both could have been influential. 

that he was God's authoritative representative. They also invite the 
conclusion that Jesus be recognised as God's shaliach (God's 
apostle). Jesus does not explicitly claim tliis title but the Gospels 
only imply tliat he fulfilled this role 

The Twelve 
The first surprise when approaching the Gospels is the discovery of 
just how infrequently die term "apostle" is used as a title for the 
twelve. It appears only once in Matthew and Mark, not at all in John 
and five times in Liike.^^ At the very least the implication would 
seem that the teim "apostle" was not the usual designation Jesus 
gave the twelve. Many scholar's, m fact, argue that Jesus did not at 
any time call the twelve "apostles" duiing his lifetime/'" The Gospel 
of Mark, which is widely held to be die earliest Gospel, virtually 
restricts the term "disciple" to the twelve and often speaks simply of 
the "The Twelve" as if tlus was quite sufficient as a title for die 
imiermost circle of Jesus' followers."" 

In the one place the word "apostle" appears (Mk. 6:30), its 
force is much disputed. In Mark 6:7, Jesus is said to have called to 


The word spears a sixtli time in Luke 1 1 :49 but it is uncertain whom Luke is here speaking 
about. The reference maybe to OT messengers. Cf. Matt. 23:34, wliich hfis prophets, wise men 
and scribes. 

L H. Mai-shall, The Gospel of Luke (Exetei-: Paternoster, 1978), 502-506. It is also 
used in John 13:16 but not specifically of the twelve -see note 9 above. 
''" W. Schmithals, op. cit. 98-110. 


This limited use of the teiin disciple for those vAio actiially accompanied Jesiis is quite 
Jewish. The disciples of the Rabbis were alvrays a small and defmed gioup althoiigli others 
might be listenei-s. The evidence that Mark understood tliat the twelve and the twelve alone 
bore the title disciple is clearly set out in R. P. Meye, Jesus and the Twelve (Grand Rqjids: 
Eerdmans, 1968) passim and in S. Freyne, The Twelve Disciples and Apostles (London: Sheed 
andWaid, 1968), 23-24. 

him tlie twelve and sent (apostellein) them out two-by-two. Later, 
Mark tells us they returned and told Jesus what "they had done and 
taught" (6:30). Thrs time, Mark uses the noun "apostoloi" which is 
translated into Enghsh as "apostle" but it has often been argued that 
in this context it means little more tlian "those who had been sent, 
returned."''" In otlier words, rt is not really used as a title. 
Furthermore, the word rs not placed on die hps of Jesus. It rs a 
Markan editorial comment, states Taylor."*^ 

In reply, however, we need to note that those whom Jesus 
sent out were given "autliority" (6:7) and entrusted with furthering 
the missron of Jesus by preaching, healing, and exorcising. It would 
seem, therefore, tliat in the context of this limited mrssion, Jesus may 
well have used the word ''shaliach " and Mark accurately reflects this 
fact.'''' As we have just noted in Mark, "the discrples" and "the 
twelve" are often used as synonyms but Mattliew's distinctive title 
for Jesus' closest followers is "die twelve discrples." The word 
"drsciple" in Matdiew (as in Mai'k) is never used for a laige group 
and is almost always restrrcted to The Twelve.''^ Just once Matdiew 
introduces the title, "the twelve apostles" (Mt. 10:2). 


" BaiTett, op. cit., 29; V. Taylor, The Gospel According to St. Mart (London: Macmillan, 
1952), 318. 
'^^ Taylor, Ibid, 319. 

Bairett, op. cit, 69: C. E. B. Craufield, The Gospel According to Mi7'^ (Cambridge: C.U.P, 
1963), 214. 


See Meye, op. cit, 24, 151-172. The paiticulai' tenninology adopted by each of tlie thiee 
Synoptic evangeUsts for the inner ciicle of disciples is illustrated by conipaiing the paiallel 
texts, Mk. 14:17 = Matt. 26:20 = Lk. 22:14 \iliich read in order "tlie twelve", "the twelve 
disciples", "the apostles." 

Again the word "apostle" is not put on the Ups of Jesus and 
Matthew may be simply saying, by way of editorial comment, "tlie 
names of [(those who later would be known as)] the twelve apostles 
are . . ." The context, however, is once agam tlie mission of Jesus and 
so Matthew may also be using the teim, on tliis one occasion, 
deliberately.''^ In words, which so cleai'ly reflect tlie representative 
role of the shaliach, (which we have already noted), Jesus says to the 
twelve, "He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me 
receives liim who sent me" (Mt. 10:40). Luke's use of the term "the 
disciples" stands in marked contrast to what we have just obseiTcd in 
Mark and Matthew. He speaks explicitly of many disciples. Once he 
refers to "a great crowd of his [(Jesus')] disciples" (6:17) and at 
another time to "the whole multitude of disciples" (1 9: 37). 

A comparison between Luke and Mark's account of the 
choice of the twelve highlights tlie differences. In Mai'k 3:13-19, tlie 
twelve are chosen from an anonymous group; whereas, in Luke 
6:12f, "the twelve apostles" ai'e chosen from among Jesus' 
"disciples." We thus have m Luke two separate groups who are 
followers of Jesus: die many "disciples" and the twelve "apostles." 
Tliis change is more one of terminology than anything else, for all 
the Gospels allow for an inner circle around Jesus as well as an outer 
one. The question, however, must be asked: "Did Luke introduce the 

They aie to go ouly to tlie house of Israel aiid tliey aie to preacli sayiug, "Tlie kingdom of 
heaveu is atliaiid" (Matt. 10:6-7). 

title "apostle" in his role as editor of tlie various historical sources he 
used,"'-' or was it tliere akeady?" 

In most instances, a good case can be made for the argument 
that Luke did add the word''^-since he believed it was an appropriate 
title for the twelve but at least once he took it over from Mark, states 
Lightfoot. (Lk. 9:10; Mk. 6:30) where we have argued it may well 
reflect sometliing of Jesus' own Linderstanding of the twelve on 
mission. However, this mission we need to remember-was of limited 
duration and only to the house of Israel (Mt. 1 0: 6).''^ It was after the 
resLirrection, according to Matthew and Luke, that Jesus 
commissioned his closest companions for a more permanent and 
universal mission.^" It was this momentous sending forth that earned 
those whom he had previously called his "disciples" the title 
"apostle." John stands somewhat apart from the Synoptic Gospels in 
his treatment of the disciples. Foiii" times he speaks of the twelve^\ 
which shows tliat he knew of the extent of Jesus' closest followers; 
but nowhere does he call them apostles. On one matter, he agrees 
with Luke. 

Marshall, too, uses the term "disciple" qmte freely. It is a 
designation that he can use even of those who follow for a wliile and 

The reason is that when a Lukan passage has a Marfcan parallel the word does not appear 
there. SeeLk. 6:13, Mk. 3:14,Lk. 22:14,Mk. 14:17. 
'" R. H. Lightfoot, St John 's Gospel (Oxford: O.V.P, 1956), 68-73. 

^°Matt. 28:16-20, Lk. 24:36-53, Acts 1:6-11, John 20:19-23. On these commissiouing scenes 
see J.D.G. Dunn, Jesus and the Spirit (Loudon: SCM, 1975), 138f 
^' 6:67,70,71; 20:24. 

then fall away (John 6:60-66).^" We can conclude, then, from our 
brief SLirvey of tlie Gospels, tliat it would seem most likely that Jesus 
himself usually referred to his closest followers as his "disciples" or 
as "the twelve" (in tliis latter case, the word "disciples" was taken as 
understood). The selection of this limited group, twelve m number, 
almost certainly has symbolic implications. They were to be seen as 
the nucleus of a restored Israel gatliered around the Messiah. ^^ If 
Jesus did use the title "apostle" in its Hebrew or Ai'amaic form 
during Ms ministty, it would have been used at tlie time of the 
mission of the twelve, but it finds its appropriate context after the 
resurrection when die risen Christ commissions his constant 
followers as heralds and witnesses of the resurrection. 

It must be noted that "the twelve" were specifically chosen 
by Jesus durmg Ins eartlily ministry and tliat tliey had all been with 
him from the beginning of his ministry. We note also that after the 
death of Judas Iscariot, Matthias was chosen as his replacement and 
not as his successor (Acts 1 : 24). Thus, the number of apostles chosen 
by Jesus was agam complete, and this completeness in nmnber is 
confirmed by die fact that when James was put to death by Herod 
(Acts 12:1-2), there is no record that a successor was appointed to 
take his place. Based on this unique and uni'epeatable nature. 

^- 1. H. Marshall, Kept by the Power of God (London: Epworth, 1969), 179. 

The only place that some explicit reflection on this fact can be seen in the Gospel is Matt. 
19:28, Lk. 22:29-30. 

Williams ai'gues that succession or restoration of the apostleship "is 
out of tlie question."^ 

In regard to apostleship, the most immediate impression we gain on 
reading Paul's epistles is Ins own overwhelming certainty that he is 
an apostle. ^^ He does not withhold this title from others, but he sees 
his own position as in some way exceptional. Si.irprisingly, he does 
not mention any of the twelve save Peter and nowhere does he 
explicitly speak of the twelve apostles. In fact, it has been argued 
that Paul does not know of tlie apostleship of the twelve. ^^ However, 
this is probably too dogmatic a conclusion notes Ku'k.^^ We cannot 
say he did not know of tlie apostleship of the twelve but we can say 
he says little or notliing about it. Two passages shed some light on 
this question-but both are difficult. 

In ICor 15:5-6, Paul recounts the tradition he had received 
about tlie resuiTection appeai'ances. He says, "Jesus appeared to 
Cephas, tlien to the twelve, tlien he appeared to more than five 
hundred brethren... then he appeared to James, tlien to all tlie 
apostles. Last of all ...he appeared to me." The passage explicitly 
singles out the twelve as a special group but are we meant to 
understand that they were called "apostles"? Opinion is quite divided 

R. Williams, Renewal Theology, ///(GiiuidR{q)ids: Zondervaii, 1992), 167. 

J. B. Lightfoot, The Epistle of St. Paid to the Qalatians (Giand Rapids: Zondervaii, 1957), 
92-101, under the chi^ter title, "The Name and Office of an Apostle. " 
^^ C. K. Bairett, op. cit., 38-9; W. Sehmithals, op. eit., 73-95, et al. 
" J. A. Kirii, op. cit, 256-8. 

and no agreed answer is possible. ^^ The second passage is only 
slightly more helpful, hi Galatians 1:17, Paul speaks of "those who 
were apostles before me" at Jerusalem. As he seems to understand 
that this group is of limited number, it may well be tliat he has the 
twelve m mmd plus James^^ (1:19 of 1 Cor. 15:7) but, again, 
certainty is not possible. Not here or elsewhere does he speak 
explicitly of "the twelve apostles." We can, however, be quite certain 
that Paul recognises a large number of people as apostles. In 1 
Corinthians 15:5-6, Paul says tliat Clirist appeared to the twelve, 
James, and "all tlie apostles." 

Twice, Paul disparagingly speaks of certain men as 
"superlative apostles" (2 Cor. 11:5, 12:11) and once of "false 
apostles" (2 Cor. 11:13). The criticism is not that tliey call 
themselves apostles but tliat what they preach is not die true Gospel. 
In 1 Corinthians 12:28 and Ephesians 4:11, apostles are said to be 
mimstries given to the Chui'ch. The fu'st passage certainly-and 
probably tlie second also-does not allow for any circumscription in 
the number of apostles. The Spirit will raise up those whom he wills 
for tliis ministry. There is some debate as to whom Paul explicitly 
names as apostles, and the contenders for the title can be listed in 
two categories: tlie certain and the probable. 

See the discussions iu Banett, 39; Schmithals, 73-9 and Kirk, 256-7. 


The alhisiou is to agioup of i^Dostles in Jeiiisalem themimber of wliich is not stated audit 
would seem to inchide Jaines vvdio was not one of the twelve! 

In the first list we have Paul himself, Peter/^and Barnabas.^' 
In the second we have James/' Jimia and Andronicus/^ Silvanus/'' 
Tmiothy,^^ Sostlienes,^^ and ApoUos.^^ That "the apostles" are not a 
closed and Limversally known group in the Pauline churches is also 
evidenced by the fact that frequently Paul has to contend for his right 
to call himself an "apostle." He is absolutely convinced that he is an 
apostle on the basis of the call and commission of the risen Christ/^ 
but others question his claim. 

Foremost in Paul's mind in regard to liis own apostlesliip is 
the divine initiative. He has been "called to be an apostle" and "set 
apart for tlie Gospel of God" (Rom. 1:1), not by men, but by "Jesus 
Christ and God the Father" (Gal. 1:1). But what, tlien, are the criteria 
by which a person may rightly claim to be an apostle? Several 

°"Gal. 1:18-19 

1 Cor. 9:6; Gal. 2:9. See D. W. B. Robinson, "Apostlesliip aud Apostolic Succession," i^fi?, 
li, 1954,35. 

" 1 Cor. 15:7, Gal. 1:9. In support of James' apostleship, see J. B. Lightfoot, St.Patd's Epistls 
to the Galatians (Macmillan, London 1890), 84, 95. Schmitlials, op. cit, 64—5, at'gues that Paul 
is deliberately ambiguous on tlie issue iu GeiI. 1. 

Rom. 16:7. See below in our discussion of womeu qjostles. W. Schmitlials, op. cit, 62. 
Takes tliese two as amongst those "certainly" recognised by Paul as apostles. 

1 Thess. 1:1, 2:6. So D. W. B. Robiiison, op. cit., 38-9; R Schnackenbui^, "Apostles 
Before and During Paul's Time", in Apostolic Histoiy and the Oospel, ed. W. W. Gasque and 
R. P. Mai-tin (Paternoster, Exeter 1970), 295. 

^^ I Thess. 1:1,2:6,2 Cor. 1:1. So Robinson, 36; Schnackenburg, 295. 
^^ 1 Cor. 1:1. SoRobinsoii, 39. 

1 Cor. 4:6,9. So Robinson, 37; Schnackenburg, 295. 

Paul sees his own apostleship as unique but tliis does not lead him to deny tlie title to some 
others wlio are associated witli him in the Gentile mission. So Robinson, 39 and 
Schnackenliiirg, 295, 301. When Paul says that Christ Eqipeaied to him "last of all" (1 Cor. 
15:8) he is only refening to resuiiection appeaiimces. If such an experience is not demanded of 
all qjostles (see below), it cannot exclude fiom qjostleship tliose vAio have been called to the 
ministiy in some other way. Acts 13:1-3 could suggest another way a person might be called to 
be an qjostle. 

qualifications are mentioned. To have seen tlie risen Lord was 
considered to be foLindational to Paul's own claim, and it was 
obviously veiy important in the minds of many otliers. But to have 
seen the resurrected Lord was not enough (Paul does not miply that 
the 500 were all apostles, cf 1 Cor 15:6), nor was it absolutely 
necessary for eveiyone who claimed the name "apostle." It is 
nowhere argued tliat Barnabas, Junia and Andronicus, Silvanus, 
Tmiothy or ApoUos had seen the Lord.^^ 

Fuithermore, 1 Corinthians 12:28 and Ephesians 4:11 do not 
list qualifications for those whom the Spirit will raise up as apostles, 
the implication is tliat the Spirit can empower any Cliristian for this 
work.^° To have brought a church into existence is another 
qualification Paul mentions. In arguing for his right to be called an 
apostle in, ICor. 9:1, Paul not only appeals to his vision of tlie risen 
Christ but also to the fact tliat tlie Corinthians were his 
"Workmanship in die Lord." Paul underlines tlie importance of this 
in tlie following sentence: "If to otliers I am not an apostle [(i.e., if 
they reject me as an apostle)], at least I am one to you; for you are 
the seal of my apostlesliip in tlie Lord (ICor. 9:2; cf ICor. 3:1-2, 
2Cor. 12:11)."^' But to be a pioneer evangelist is not sufficient in 
itself A genume apostle must proclaim die one Gospel. In 2 
Corinthians 11 and 12 Paul assails some who call tliemselves 

Schnackenburg, 295ff. It is possible that this is the case for some of these people but it is not 
possible in regaid to Timothy and ApoUos. 

70 J 

^° Schnackenbm-g, 299. 

Ibid, 292-3; C. K. Banett, op. cit, 41. 

"apostles" not for calling tliemselves "apostles," nor for lack of a 
personal conunission from tlie "risen Clirist" (which he could have if 
this was foundational), but because tliey preached another gospel.^' 

The same argument appears m Galatians l:6f although here 
we are not told that "the different Gospel" claimed to be apostles. 
Just once Paul speaks of "the signs of a apostle" (2Cor. 12:12). 
The context is one in which Paul is contending witli those 
Corinthians who tliought that an apostle should be a more impressive 
figui'e tlian he was. A haie apostle-they seem to have argued-should 
be able to boast of visions and miracles. Paul's reply is that he has 
known tliese tilings, but for liim the more important "signs of a haie 
Apostle" are suffermgs endured in tlie seiTice of Christ (2Cor. 
11:16-33; ICor. 4:8-13)7^ 

So far we have been speaking of the qualifications of what 
Paul would call "apostles for Christ," but twice he speaks of 
"apostles of the churches" (2Cor. 8:23; Phil. 2:25). These men-the 
contexts demonsh'ate-are not missionaries but chui'ch eiwoys 
commissioned for a specific task of limited duration.^'' The 
significance of these references is that they bear witness to yet one 
more usage of tlie term "apostle" in the New Testament period. 
These "apostles" are not sent out by tlie risen Clirist nor are they 
charismatic pioneer evangelists, but tliey are simply church 

" Oil tliis point see D. W. B. Robiusou, op. cit., 53. 

C. K. Barrett, op. cit., 42-3. He concludes his discussion of this point by statiug, "Paul's 
theology beai^s the stamp of the Cross and so does his i^ostohc ministry ",43. 


The background to this usage is the Jewish concept of the shaliach. It is used here witliout 
its specifically Chiistiau content. 

messengers. We may conclude, then, that Paul viewed Ins own 
apostlesliip as quite unique, but he allowed that others also could be 
called "apostles of Chi'ist." These other apostles were Spirit- 
empowered pioneer missionaries who preached the Gospel faithfully 
at some personal cost. Paul's lofty view of liis own apostlesliip rests 
on his never-fading awareness that the risen Christ appeared to him 
personally and sent him out to preach the Gospel to the Gentile 

Paul's Recognition of Other Apostles 
Whom else did Paul recognise as valid apostles? Did he use the word 
in different senses? By what criteria did he recognise apostles? We 
now turn to these questions. As we do so, it will prove helpfiU to 
bear m mmd the statements of Schmitlials, tliat "Paul knows only of 
a single apostolic circle, which means tliat early Christianity 
possessed only one apostolate,"^^ and of Kirk, who believes that "the 
New Testament writers in fact present only one view of apostleship, 
in different forms according to different circumstances."^^ Ai'e tliese 
statements hue? We begin with a consideration of those who have a 
claim to be named as apostles by Paul. Of these, Barnabas, Silas, and 
Apollos are regai'ded by Ellis as occupying a distinctive position: 
"None of these persons, at least in Paul's letters, is presented as 

^^ Schmithals, Ojftce. 88. 

^"^ J A Kiri4, "Apostleship since Rengstorf ', in JVrS'21 (1974/5) 261. 

being under Paul's autliority, and it may be significant that all of 
them ai'e termed apostles. "^^ 

We have already seen that accordmg to Galatians 2:9 Barnabas, as 
well as Paul, was given die right hand of fellowship by tlie "pillars" 
of tlie Jeiiisalem chui'ch, with a view to going "to the nations." From 
1 Corinthians 9:1-6 it seems clear that Paul was content to give the 
title "apostle" to Barnabas. Inverse 1, he speaks of having seen Jesus 
(surely a reference to his "Damascus Road Experience)" and of his 
church-planting work in Corindi as marks of his apostlesliip. Inverse 
5, he mentions "the other apostles," who, together widi tlie brothers 
of die Lord and Cephas, are accompanied by "a sister as wife"^^ on 
their ti'avels. It is in this context of apostlesliip that he mentions 
Barnabas in verse 6 as one who, like himself, worked for a living 
diii'mg liis travels. 

The reference to Barnabas is important insofar as the 
evidence suggests that they had not worked together for some time 
(Acts 15:39).^^ Clearly, Barnabas was continuing to pvirsue his 
apostolic calling. ^° Holmberg SLirmises that "tlie reference to 

^^ E. E. Ellis, "Paul and his co -workers", in ATS 17 (1970/11) 439; cf B Holmberg, Paul and 
Power (Lund: CWK Gleemp, 1978), 61. 

Probably to be iuteipreted as "a believing wife." 


Barrett's conjecture tliat 1 Cor 9:6 is "evidence that he (ie Barnabas) rejoined the Pauline 
mission" is unfounded (1 Corinthians, 204). If lie had done so, there would suiely have been 
otlier references to him in the Pauline corpus; (though cf Col4: 10). 

Barnabas is also called an jostle by Clement of Alexandria (Strom It 6:31; in 7.35 lie is 
called an jostle and numbered among the seventy disciples), Lightfoot believed that "the 
^ostleship of Barnabas is beyond question", Galatians, 96. 

Barnabas, a person known and respected in Jerusalem, Antioch and 
also in the Pauline chiirches, is not made merely to gain esteem by 
association, but above all in order to connect Paul's abstention from 
his rights with a practice common to all apostles to the Gentiles, this 
is by no means certain."^' 

Silvanus /Silas 
Silvanus is mentioned by Paul together with Timotliy m 2 
Corinthians 1:19, and in the superscriptions of 1 and 2 
Thessalonians. It is clear from tliese verses tliat Silvanus had 
preached to the Thessalonians and to tlie Corinthians in company 
with Paul. (There is common agreement that he is to be identified 
with the Silas of Acts 15-18.) He is always mentioned before 
Timothy and thus would seem to be of superior status to him (Acts 
15:22,32). In 1 Thessalonians 2:7, Paul writes, "we might have made 
demands as apostles of Christ." The question arises as to whether or 
not he regarded Silvanus and Timothy as apostles of Clirist. Askwith 
argues, "tliere is a veiy good case for inteipretmg "we" when it 
occurs in the Pauline Epistles, as a proper plui'al."^- 

Lofthouse agrees wMi Askwith^^ but points out tliat in 1 
Thessalonians "he speaks of the trio as he could hardly have spoken 
of himself witliout ostentation . . .There is notliing self-assertive. 

Holinberg,Paiil, 65. 


E.H Askwith, 'T' and "We" iii the Tliessalouian Epistles', Expositor 8 (1911) 153. 

WF Lofthouse, "I" aiid"We" iii the Paiiliiie Epistles', £76 (1955) 80: "It would ^pear that 
in Paul's use of the singular and plural there is neithei' caprice nor caielessness. When he says 
'T' he meaus "I". 

nothing that does not suit tlie little band of evangelists as a whole. ^ 
Biiice translates anoaxoXoc, 1 Thessalomans 2:7 as "messengers", 
believing that "tlie word is used in a rather general sense: Paul 
associates his companions with his apostolic mimstry-in, which 
indeed tliey shared. "^^ Best persuasively argues tliat "at this stage on 
the second joLirney he may not have fonniilated fully his own 
position as an apostle as he did later in 1 Cor 9:1, 15:5ff, 2 Cor 
10:13, and tlierefore may have been able to consider Silas and 
Timothy as apostles alongside himself. "^^ 

The doubt concerning whether Paul later recognises Silas 
and Timothy as fiill "apostles of Clirist" emerges-as Lightfoot argued 
long ago^^-because Paul clearly distinguishes between himself as an 
"apostle" and Timothy as a "brother" in 2Corinthians 1:1 and 
Colossians 1:1. Elsewhere, where Paul Imks Timotliy's name with his 
own, he drops tlie title of "apostle" (e.g. Pliilippians 1:1 "Paul and 
Timothy, servants of Jesus Christ"). Bruce ai'gues that tlie term 
"apostle" "can scarcely be stretched to include Timotliy, his own 
"son in the faith" (1 Tim 1:2), whatever may be said of Silvanus."^^ 
As regards Silvanus, it must be said that there is no evidence that he 
worked as an apostle mdependently. It is possible that he eventually 
became the co-worker of Peter and cooperated in the writing of 1 

Ibid, 74. 

F.FBruce, "I aiid 2 Th es salon ians", in Word Biblical Commentary (Waco: Word Books, 

E. Best, land 2 Thessalomans, 100. 
Lightfoot, Galatians, 96 n 2. 
Bruce, Iand2 Thessalomans, 31. 

Peter, but his identification with the Silvanus of 1 Peter 5:12 must 
remain uncertain. ^^ 


In 1 Corinthians 4:9, as we have seen, Paul speaks of "us apostles." 
It is possible to argue that Paul has Apollos in view, in the light of 
the reference to him m 4:6 and m 3:4ff, 22. This, however, seems 
unlikely. A study of tlie whole context, (especially verses 14ff), 
shows that "he is tliinking specially of liis own position."^" There is 
no evidence that Apollos experienced any of tlie suffermg refeiTed to 
in verses 1 0-1 3. If he has any particular individuals in mind, tliey are 
more likely to be Silvanus^' and Timotliy^" who had shared his 
sufferings in the church-plantmg work. Cephas might also qualify, as 
one known to tlie Corinthians. But on tlie whole, it seems likely that 
Paul has apostles as a class in mind ratlier tlian any particular 

Apollos is regarded by him as an apostle seems probable in 
view of tlie clear distinction made in 1 Corinthians 3:6, 10 between 
his own work as a "planter" and "skilled master-builder" who has 
laid a foundation, and that of Apollos, who is a "waterer", one who 
builds on the foundation. Paul is fully conscious that he has received 
a special commission from God for his work (1 Cor 3:10), but 

'E.G. Stlwya, The First Epistle of St. Peter (Loudon: Maemillaii & Co. Ltd, 1947), 9-17. 


Loflhouse, "T" and "We"', BT (1955) 75. 


Lightfoot, Oalatians, 96 u 2. 
" J Murphy O'Connoi', 'Tradition and Redaction iu 1 Coiintliians 15:3-7', in Catholic 

Bibhcal Quaitedy, (1981) 589, 43. 

nothing similar is said of Apollos. Lightfoot notes that ApoUos is 
distinctly excluded from the apostolate by Clement of Rome (I 
Clement 47), whom he describes as "a contemporary" who "probably 
knew him."^^ That he knew Paul is far from certain, however. Ellis, 
notes "Paul and Apohos always appear to work mdependently"*' (cf 
1 Cor 16:llf; Titus 3:13). 

Andronicus and Junia(s) 
The reference in Romans 16:7 to tliese two individuals is of die 
greatest importance. Although it is just possible to translate 
"outstanding in the eyes of tlie apostles", it is much more natui'al to 
translate it as "outstanding among the apostles." Cranfield regai'ds 
this latter translation as "virtually certam" and notes that this was tlie 
way it was taken by all known pah'istic commentators.^^ In such a 
case, it must be recogmsed that Paul acknowledged a sizeable group 
as apostles, not merely the two mentioned by name in Romans 16:7. 
Research of Patristic and Medieval commentaries has shown, 
interestingly enough, that this commonly held modem idea was 
assumed by no commentator before the 12"' century. 

The early commentators on tlie epistle to the Romans all 
accept that Paul here speaks of Juma, a woman apostle. ^^ We cannot 
be certain, but it is possible that Andronicus and Junia were husband 


Lightfoot, Oalatians, 96 n 2. 


Ellis, "Paul"in ATS (1970/1) 439. 

^^ Cranfield, J^oraaws 2.789. 

B. Brooten, "Junia ... Outstanding Among the Apostles (Romans 16:7)";in Womsn Priests: 
A Catholic Commentaiy on the Vatican Declaration, ed. L. A. Swidler (Paulist Press, New 
York 1977), 141-3. 

aiid wife working together as missionaries, like Aqiiila and Prisca. 
Theu" pre-eminence, Dodd conjectures, may even arise because "they 
had some hand m founding tlie Church of Rome."^^ Schulz^^ and 
Broston^^ have shown that all the Church Fathers who quote tliis text 
or comment upon it give tlie name of eitlier Juma or Julia (a 
minority). '*"' Moreover, "from the time accents were added to tlie text 
iintil the early decades of tliis centviry Greek New Testaments prmted 
the acute accent indicating a word of the first declension wliich is 
predominantly the feminine declension."^"' 

If taken as masculine witli an acute accent, we would be left 
with Jimias, a name othenvise entirely unknown, whereas Jiinia is a 
common Roman female name. The circmnflex accent would require 
a contracted, masculme form of tlie first declension, a veiy rare form. 
Moreover, if taken as a familiar or endearing foim of a longer Latm 
name, the problem arises that "Latin names of endearment normally 
lengthen ratlier than shorten."'"- Juma is, therefore, by far the most 
likely alternative. Cranfield's suggestion tliat "most probably 
Andronicus and Junia were husband and wife"'"^ is veiy likely to be 

Dodd, The Epistle of Paul to the Romans {London: Collins, 1959), 241. 
^^R. R. Shulz, "Romans 16:7: Junia or Junias?", iu ET. 98 No 4 (Jau 1987), 108-110. 


B. Broston, "Junia . . . Outstanding among the Apostles" in Women Pnssts: A Catholic 
Commentaiy on the Vatican Declaration, edL and A S"widler (New York: Paiilist, 1977), 

Which is found in the very eaily P46 mauuscript, but is otherwise veiy poorly supported. 
This reading is probably due to a cleiical eiTor. 
'**' Shulz, "Romans 16:7", in ET, (Jan 1987) 109. 
^°-Ibid, 109. 

Cranfield, Romans, 2. 788. 

correct. For a woman to work on her own as an apostle-given first 
century cultural attitudes -would have been virtually impossible. The 
question remams as to the sense m wliich "apostle" should be 

Muiray suggests that if tliey ai'e to be regarded as apostles at 
all, which he notes as improbable, the word "apostle" is "used in a 
more general sense of messenger (2 Cor 8:23; Phil 2:25)."'°'' In light 
of the fact tliat they have shared one of Paul's miprisonments (2 Cor 
11:23), however, it is more likely tliat they were itinerant 
missionaries. '°^ Moreover, it is difficult to conceive of a class of 
"messengers" among whom Andromcus and Juiua were outstanding. 
The word auy^VTn; are probably to be Linderstood as "fellow 
countrymen", i.e. Jews, as in Romans 9:3).'"^ That they were "in 
Christ" before Paul leaves open die possibility that they may have 
seen the risen Clirist. The almost casual way ui which they are 
introduced in the middle of a greetings list, however, suggests tliat 
they did not possess great autliority in the chui'ch. '''^ Schmithals, 


J Murray, The Epistle to the Romans (Graud Rqjids: Eerdmaiis, 1965), 2.230. 

For hypotheses connecting them with the foundation of the Epiiesian or Roman see B W 
Bacon, ET 42 (1930/1) 300ff, and G A Barton, ET 43 (1931/2). 

In Rom 16:17-21 six persons are called ouyyeVTl (J. M. Ramsay, The Cities of St Paul 
(London: SPCK, 1907), 176 £f, infeis membership of tlie same Tarsian civic tribe, but this is 

The Greek word is Joiinian. It can be read as the accusative of the feia'm'me Jounia oi' as a 
contraction of tlie masculine Jotimamis. The NIV ti-anslates "Jiimas" wliich is probably the 
short fonn of "Jumanus" hence masculine, \iliile the KJV on the other hand translates "Junia," 
hence feminine. See Lightfoot, op, cit.,96, note 1; Robinson, op. cit., 38: Ci-anfieid, op. cit, 
789; W. Sanday and A. C. Headlam, The Epistle to the Romans (Edinburgh: T. & T. Claik, 
1902), 423. 

who takes Rom. 16:7 as one of the certain texts which name apostles 
otlier tlian Paul says, "this translation... is the only natural one."^"^ 

"The Other Apostles" 
In the light of tlie foregoing conclusions, it is likely that Paul's 
reference in 1 Corintliians 9:5 to "other apostles" should be 
understood as a reference to a class of itinerant missionaries. They 
are distingmshed both from "the brothers of die Lord" (et Mai'k 6:3, 
Matt 13:55) and from "Cephas" i.e. Peter. The fact that tliey are 
associated with major figLires in the chui'ch suggests tliat they have 
status and importance (1 Cor 12:28). The fact tliat Cephas is 
distinguished from diem makes it unlikely tliat they were, or 
(included), the twelve.'"^ 

Apostles of the Churches 
From the context in Philippians 2:25 it is clear that this should be 
translated "your messenger" and that Epaphroditus was an authorised 
agent of tlie Philippians, sent to mimster to and to help Paul. There is 
no record of his douig any missionary work. Similarly, in 
2Corinthians 8:23 the reference to "my partner and fellow helper 
concerning you: or our" brethren be enquired of, they are the 
messengers" two brefliren who are agents of the chiu'ches. This is 
expressly stated of one of them m 8:19, although he is a famous 
preacher (8:18), his role in diis case is clearly that of ensuring that 

"' Op. eit, 62. 


A Haniack, TheExpansion ofChnstianity in the First Three Centimes (Loudon: Williams 
&Norgate, 1904),1.404. 

the collection for the church at Jerusalem is rightly administered. The 
otlier brother (8:22)-who has often been tested- is clearly chosen for 
the same task because of his proven faithfulness. Paul praises these 
two highly as "tlie gloiy of Chiist" (8:23), but there is no indication 
that he regards them as missionaries or apostles in their own right. 

It was argued above tliat the reference to "those who were apostles 
before me" in Galatians 1:17 must refer, at least primarily, to the 
twelve. Should tlie statement be translated "the only otlier apostle I 
saw (apart from Cephas) was James" or "I saw none of the otlier 
apostles, but I did see James" or "Apai't from the apostles, I saw no- 
one but James"?'^" The ttui'd possibility has been effectively removed 
by Howard who lias argued that if Paul had wished to say tliis, he 
would have expressed himself differently. '" 

It should be noticed that James clearly held pre-eminence in 
the Jerusalem chui'ch after AD 44 (et Acts 12:17, 21:18 and the order 
of the names in Gal 2:9). There is no evidence, apart from tlie 
reference in 1 Corinthians 9:5 to "the brothers of the Lord," that he 
ever engaged in missionary work; m light of his responsibilities m 
Jerusalem, this seems unlikely. He clearly sent out delegates to 
different chui'ches, however (Gal 2: 1 2). 

'^° L.P.Tnidinger, "James", in Nov T 17 (1975), 200-202. 

"^ G. F. Howard, "Was Jaines an Apostle?", in Nov T 19 (1977), 63f. 

All the Apostles 

The meaning of this phrase in 1 Cormtliians 15:7 is difficult to 
determine, Bruce has argued that if in 1 Cormtliians 15:5-7 Paul 
"links the appearance to Cephas with a following appearance to "tlie 
twelve" (to whose number Cephas belonged), his linking of the 
appearance to James with a following appearance to "all the 
apostles" suggests that he included James among "all tlie 

First, as Godet argued, "the expression "all the apostles" 
does not naturally express the idea of a circle larger tlian the 
twelve.""' The emphasis is on a strictly limited circle, whereas otlier 
Pauline references to apostles in the sense of itinerant missionaries 
(Rom 1 6: 7) give tlie impression of an open, large group. Second, if it 
is accepted that here we are dealmg with a piece of early tradition, it 
seems doubtful that tlie word "apostle" m tlie sense of "itinerant 
missionary" would have become embodied in a fundamental 
statement of beliefs at such an early stage in the church's life. If the 
reference here is to "tlie twelve" and James, as seems likely,"'' it is 
necessary to ask whetlier or not Paul regarded it as a necessary 

Bnice, Galatians, lOI. Banett, / Corinthians, 343. He regards this conclusion as 

The assessment given here, though supported by some older scholars (e.g. Hacnack) goes 
against the position held by most modem scholais. The explanation of the fact that in other 
places (e.g., probably, 1 Cor 9:5) Paul uses the word in awider sense, whereas here the sense is 
naiTowei', may be accounted for by the fact that Paul is dependent on tradition here. 

1 14 

H. von Camp enhau sen. Ecclesiastical Authority and Spiritual Power in the Church of the 
First Three Centuries (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1997), 23. 'The decisive factor is the 
encoimter with the Risen Lord, vdiich was frequently both experienced and understood as a 
special call or commission." 

condition of apostleship (including tlie sense of "itinerant 
missionary") to have seen the risen Christ. 

On tlie basis of 1 Corintliians 15:7f and 1 Corinthians 9:1, 
this question is frequently answered in the affinnative."^ Kirsopp 
Lake has argued, however, that the disagreement that Paul "thought 
that an apostle needed to have seen the Lord is a rather rash 
conclusion from ICor 9:1... "Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? 
Have I not seen Jesus our Lord?" are tliree separate claims to 
distinction, and it is an exaggeration to say that Paul only regarded as 
"apostles" those who liad seen Jesus. ""^ It is of coLirse possible that 
Barnabas, whom Luke records as a member of the primitive 
commLmity (Acts 4:36f), Silas, who likewise was one of the "leading 
men among the bretliren" of tlie Jen.isalem church (Acts 15:22), and 
Andronicus and Junia, who were "m Clirist" before Paul (Rom 16:7), 
had seen and been commissioned by the risen Lord. "^ It is 
dangerous, however, to build too much on ai'guments from silence. ^'^ 
It seems safer, then, to see a commissioning by die risen Lord as 
essential to tliose "who had been constituted by him public witnesses 

'^^ K Lake, Beginnings, Vol. II (Loudon: MacMillaii, 1972), 50f, 402n 1. Siinilai'ly, Haiiiack 
argiies that one cannot prove flom 1 Cor 9:1 that one must have seen the risen Lord in order to 
be an i^ostle. "The four statements are in an ascending series. . . It is cleai' that tlie thiid and 
fourth statements aie meant to attest the second, but it is doubtfiil if tliey contain an attestation 
which is absolutely uecessaiy." 

' '^ Lightfoot, Gahtians, 98. 

For a typical example of such an aigument, c.f. von Campenhausen, "The fpostles are thus 
the plenipotentiaries of theii' heavenly Lord, and their authority. . . is based in all probability on 
a call by the risen Chiist himself," Ecclesiastical Authority, 22. 

""^ Ibid, 23. 

to his resurrection""^ and hence enjoyed substantial autliority'"" in 
the chui'ch, a group seemingly confined to the twelve, James and 
Paul, but not to those itinerant missionaries who were also known as 

Women Apostles? 
The whole question of women's ministry is a pressing contemporary 
issue and many have argued, the fact tliat tlie twelve were all men. 
Tliis is of great sigmficance to the present debate. By historical 
necessity, tlie twelve apostles had to be men. If tliey were to be seen 
as tlie counteipaits of tlie twelve patriarchs, maleness was of tlie 
essence of tlieir role. However, since this typological role was a 
once-for-all tiling, it is hard to see how any inference can be drawn 
for any other mmistty. It should be added also tliat, in the male- 
dommated Jewish Society of Jesus' day, tlie law excluded women as 
witnesses. It was thought that their testimony was woitliless. ^-' 

For this reason also tlie twelve apostles had to be men. But, 
despite tlie cultui'al depreciation of women in Jewish society, die 


OnPaul's viewof his authority as aii apostle, cf 3 Goldmgay, Authonty and Ministry 
(Brauicote Nottingham: Grove Books, 1987), 14, 17; D Cameron, "Authority in the Chiuch- 
New Testament Period", in Churchman 95 (1981) 27. 

'"° Pace, e.g., JD G Dmm. Jesus and the Spint {l^onAon: SCM Press, 1975), 273f. Sees only 
two senses. Dunn is typical in this of many modem scholais. Compaie, however, tlie wise 
comments of C KBairett: "Does Paul use the woid "apostle" in a thiid sense, to denote a body 
of men wlio were more than chiuch messengere but less than apostles such as himself and 
Peter? Wliat were Andioniciis and Junias? . . Wlien the idiole Pauline evidence is reviewed, it 
is much easier to establish tlie two extremes apostles of Chiist Jesus, such as Paul himself and 
Peter, and envoys of the chmch than 

to pick out acleaily defmed inteiinediate category", Signs, 46f 

The Rabbis had concluded fiom Gen. 18:15 tliat all women were liars while Josephus says, 
"let not the testimony of women be admitted on account of the levity and boldness of their 
sex." SeeE. Hill, Women and Then' Ministry (Melbomiie: Dove Communications, 1977), 24 
and note 20. 

synoptic authors agree tliat it was women who first found the empty 
tomb and Matdiew and Jolin record fliat Jesus appeared first to 
women. The encounter between the risen Christ and the women is 
drawn as a commissioning scene. ^^^ The Lord says, "Go and tell my 
brethren" (Matt. 28:10 cf Jolin 20:17). The women are chosen and 
commissioned by tlie risen Chiist to be the first to proclaim the fact, 
"He IS risen." Brown believes that it was John's intent to give "a 
qiiasi-apostolic role" to tliese women. ^'^ 

Takmg up Pauline qualifications for apostleship, Jolm shows 
that the women fulfil tlie two chief requirements. They have seen the 
risen Christ and they ai'e sent fortli by him.^''' (Here we need to 
remember that John never calls tlie twelve "apostles.") Brown also 
refers to the meeting between Jesus and die Samaritan woman in 
Jolm chapter 4. Here he sees the foiii'th Evangelist giving to this 
woman apostolic missionary status. She is depicted as the foimder of 
the Samaritan Church.'-^ In this narrative, he says, we have, "the 
most important use of the verb apostellein in John (4:38)"''^ as well 
as and tlie comment that the male Samaritans believed because of the 
woman's witness (4:39). 

'-- J. D. G. Dunn, op. eit., 128. 

Raymond Browii, "Roles of Women in the Fourth Gospel", in TheoL St ,36, 688-99; 60. 
'-'' Ibid, 692. 

R. Browu, The Oospel According to John (London: Doubleday, 1971), vol 1, xcv. 


"Roles", 691. Brown believes Johu intends it to be understood that "the women's role is an 

esseutial component in the total mission although John 4:37 speaks only of the male disciples 

being sent to harvest." 


Contrary to tlie views of Schinitlials and Kirk (as above), it may be 
suggested that Paul did use the word "apostle" in at least tlii'ee 
different senses.''^ He spoke of tliose with special authority to 
witness to the risen Chi'ist, of itinerant missionaries, church-planters 
such as Andronicus and Junia, and of chui'ch delegates who were not 
(at least, not primai'ily) missionaries. It may also be suggested that 
Paul saw Peter (Cephas) and liimself as a bridge between the first 
two classes of "apostle." on the one hand, tliey were botli specially 
commissioned representatives of the risen Lord witli divuiely given 
autliority and leaders of the respective "apostleship" (missions to 
Israel and the Gentiles) on the other. Otlier readings of the evidence 
are possible, but tliis Linderstanding has most to commend it. 

The Rest of the New Testament 
In 1 Peter 1 : 1 the autlior calls himself an "apostle" but nothing is said 
of the basis or nature of this claim. Jude 1:17 and 2 Peter 3: 2 seem to 
reflect more the Lukan Linderstanduig of apostlesliip, for we may 
take it that these two references speak of "the twelve" as apostles in a 
somewhat exclusive sense. ''^ The book of Revelation, on tlie otlier 
hand, allows for a two-fold use of the term. In Rev. 21 : 1 4, tlie twelve 
apostles are seen to be foLindational m the establishment of tlie New 
Jerusalem but m Rev. 18:20 and 2:2, the term "apostle" is used much 
more widely. The first reference reflects 1 Cor. 1 2:28 and Eph. 4: 1 1 

D\iua,Jestis, 275 
'"^ C. K. Barrett, op. cit., 58-9. 

in speaking of "apostles and prophets." The second suggests that 
there were many who ti'avelled around claiming to be Christian 
apostles; sometimes, as m this case, the claim was quite false. 


Little unifonnity in usage of the term "apostle" can be found in the 

immediate post-New Testament writings. 

"Those influenced by the tradition that the twelve were 
apostles par excellence reflect this idea and those influenced 
by the Pauline epistles refl.ect the thought that the apostles 
were quite a large group. " 

But often both ideas can be found m die one piece of literature 
without comment'-^a thuig we have seen already m die New 
Testament.'^** Hennas suggests tliat this larger group of apostles 
numbered forty/^' several odiers mention the nmnber seventy or 
seventy-two^^" while Eusebius, explaining 1 Cormthians 15:7, speaks 
of "numberless apostles" besides the twelve. '^^ These writers usually 
take it that all tliese apostles were commissioned by tlie risen Cliiist, 
but occasionally the view that an apostle was a pioneer missionary 
also appears. In The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles-ox as it is more 
commonly named The Didache-the twelve are given pre-emmence as 
the title shows, but at the same time the terai "apostle" is used 
simply of itinerant Spirit-led missionaries (Did, 11:4-6). The same 


Lightfoot, op. cit., 99-100. His discussion of the use of the title iqiostle in the post-apostolic 
writings is still probably the best. See, however, also Schmithals, op. cit., 23 Iff; L. Goppelt, 
Apostolic and Post-Apostohc Times (London: A. & C. Black, 1970), 178-82 et al. 

E.g. in Acts and Revelation. 

'^' Sim. 9:15:6. Cf Vts. 3:5, Sim. 9:25. 


Ilea. Against Heresies 1:1\:\, Tett, Against Marcion, 4:24 and quite frequently in the 
Ancient Syriac Dociunents. See The Ante-Mcene Fathers,. 8 (Eerdinans, Giand Rapids, no 
date, ed. A. C. Fox), 65 Iff. 

£ec. Hist. 1:12. Quoted from K. Lake, Loeb Classical Library (London: Williams & 
Norgate, 1959). Origen also understands that the tenii apostle is capable of veiy wide 
^plication (Commentary on John, Ch^Dter 4). 

usage of tlie term is also foimd in Pseudo Clement, Horn. 11:35 and 
Hennas, Sim. 11:15:4.^^'' Various people are called apostles in the 
Patristic writings. Not only tlie twelve, and Paul and James, but also 
Barnabas,"^ ApoUos,^^^ Philip,^'^ Sosthenes"^ and Clement of 

One of tlie most interesting is Tliecla. In the apocryphal 
Acts of Paul and Thecla, which was widely read in tlie second 
century, we meet Thecla, a fearless woman evangelist and 
compamon of Paul who is called an "apostle."''''' In tliis period, tlie 
thought diat the twelve went out to the whole world preacliing tlie 
Gospel began to emerge. It is fu'st enunciated in 1 Clement and is 
very prominent m die writmgs of Justin.''" By the time The Acts of 
Thomas was written, this tradition was full blown. Here we read of 
Thomas' recollection of how "we [(the twelve apostles)] portioned 
out the regions of the world in order that each one of us might go to 


Vou Caiiipenhauseu, op. cit., 23 and note 59. On Hermas see note 72 above for the 
conipaiative references. 

Eusebiiis,Ecc. il/fsf., 1:12:1. 

Clement of Alexandiua, Strom, 2. See Lightfoot, op. cit., 100, note 2 

For details see Lightfoot, op. cit., note 3. 

Euseh'ms, Eec. Hist, 1:12-1. 

Clement of Alexandria, Strom, 2. See Lightfoot, op. cit., 100, note 2. 


The text of this work is found mAnte-Mcene Fathers, 8, op. cit., 487-92. See also E. M. 

Howe, "Intepretatious of Paul in the Acts of Paul and Thecla", in Paulins Studies, ed. D. A. 

Hagner and J. M. Harris {Exeter: Paternoster, 1980), 33-49. She argues that the author of tliis 

work validates Thecla's ministry by depicting her in male categories. 


Details aie given on Justin in W. Schmitlials, op. cit., 535. Similaily, see Eusebiiis, Eec. 
Hist., 2:3:lf, 3:1:6. 

the region that fell to him... By lot, tlien India fell to Judas 

Gradually, however, the twelve and Paul came to be seen 
more and more as "the apostles." Wherever Pauline epistles were 
known, Paul was either named along with tlie twelve or tlie twelve 
apostles were spoken of witliout any intent to exclude Paul from this 
select circle. It was only when Marcion and later Jewish Christians 
began to play Paul against the twelve tliat deliberate thought was 
given to die number of the apostles. The conclusion tliat emerged 
was tliat only the twelve and Paul qualified for tins title. "^ The more 
general usage tlien fell mto disuse-even disapprobation-and only 
appeared when vised almost metaphorically of those who pioneered 
the evangelisation of some countiy or region. Thus we hear of 
Patrick, the apostle of Ireland, or of Augustine, the apostle of 
England, or Cyril and Methodius, the apostles of the Slavs- 

I Clement 
Tliis epistle by Clement of Rome to the Corinthians, probably written 
about AD 96-100, clearly speaks of tlie apostles in terms of the 
twelve. In section 42: "If they are said to have been commissioned by 
Christ, and to have had theu" doubts set at rest by the resuirection. " In 
section 47.4 Paul is said to be, togetlier with Peter, an apostle of the 
highest repute, but the title is denied to Apollos. In section 44:1, tlie 
apostles are said to have appomted bishops and deacons. 

- Goppelt, op. cit., p. 181 and note 10. 


This is brought out most strongly by Luke. On this tlieme see F. Hahn et al., The 
Beginnings of the Church in the New Testament (Ediiibui'gh: St. Andiews Piess, 1970), passim 

Ignatius of Antioch 

Ignatius, tlioiigh liighly conscious of his authority and status, makes 
clear the fact that he does not regard himself as an apostle: "I am not 
issuing orders to you, as though I were a Peter or Paul. They were 
Apostles and I am a condemned prisoner.""'' In Philadelphians 5:3, 
he speaks of himself as clinging to "the Apostles as tlie collective 
ministry of the chiii'ch," an unclear reference. He has nothing to say 
about apostolic succession, tliough twelve times in Ins letters he 
speaks of tlie tlii'ee orders of ministry-(viz bishop, presbyters and 
deacons). The reference in Smyrnaeans 12:2 to "Burrhus, whom you 
and brethren of Ephesus have jointly sent as a compamon for me," 
reminds us of "the apostles of tlie chiii'ches" in Philippians 2:25 and 
2 Corintliians 8:23. But Butilius is not given such a title by Ignatius. 

The Epistle of Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna, to the Philippians, speaks 
of "the Apostles who brought us tlie Gospel" (6:3). The reference 
seems to be a naiTow one, since in 9:2 he speaks of "Paul himself 
and the otlier Apostles" as men who are now with the Lord. Irenaeus 
tells us that the youfliful Polycarp had been "instructed by apostles 
and had had friendly association with many who liad seen 
Christ" (Haer 3:3, 4). 


Romans 4-:3 {Tralhans 3:4), Trauslation by M Stanifoitli, Writings, 104f. Haniack claims 
that the fact Ignatius disclaims iqiostohc dignity for himself is nevertheless "aproof that there 
w^s a possibility of one vA\o had not been an original apostle being nonetlieless an apostle", 
Expansion, 408 n 1. This claim is unjustified. 


The title beat's witness to the concept of "tlie twelve Apostles" as 
having a unique authority. '''^ 

W Bauer comments that in early Christian literatui'e, generally "tlie 
number twelve stands so fast that exceedingly often twelve disciples 
are spoken of where actually only eleven can be meant e.g. Gospel of 
Peter 5:9; Ascension of Isaiah 3:17, 4:3; 11:29; Kerygma Petrou,'"^^'^ 
Much is said in die apociyphal Acts and Epistles of tlie various 
views and activities of the apostles after tlie ascension, especially of 
their missionary work throughout the world. Paul is not deliberately 
excluded from die nmnber, but "it was only when Mai'cion and later 
Jewish Christiamty began to play Paul agamst the earliest apostles 
that thought was given to the circle of apostles, and tlie Early Church 
maintained that "die twelve and Paul" qualified as apostles."'''^ 

As regards the apostolic writings, it was probably the rise of 
Montanus, who advocated "the new prophecy", that is the contmuing 
revelation of the Holy Spirit as m apostolic times, that raised the 
hermeneutical question of the status of apostolic and post apostolic 
writings, respectively. Bray comments tliat "Tertullian is the first 
Christian writer to regard the apostolic age as defimtely over, and to 
quote the writings of the apostles on a par with tlie Old Testament 
Scriptures as a matter of course." He pomts out, however, "the fact 


Epistls of Barnabas, 8:3 (ii 240). 


W Bauer , New Testament Apociyphan (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1965), 35. 


L Goppelt, 4posfei/ic Time (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1980), 181. 

that he could do this without ai'gument shows tliat tlie apostolic 
writings must have been regarded as Scripture even before Ins time." 


G. Bray, "Authority in tlie Eaily Church", in (London: Churchman Vol 95 No 1, 1981), 45. 


There ai'e at least two verses where the sense iii which Paul is using 
the word "apostle" is not immediately clear but where the meaning is 
of vital importance given current Restoratiomst claims. 

1 Corinthians 12:28 
In this verse, Paul states tliat God has appointed in tlie church, fu'st 
apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then various charismata. 
The verse is unportant because of its statement tliat apostles have 
primacy in the chui'ch, at least in some sense. Duim has argued, 
"Paul refers to the particular apostles who established the chui'ch in 
question," in this case "presumably Paul and Barnabas"'"'^ (I Cor 
9:6). As apostles, tliey provided a Imk not so much between the local 
church and other churches elsewhere (the universal chui'ch) as 
between the local church and the gospel. "'^^ This interpretation has 
the merit of respecting the context, which speaks of the church m 
Corinth as "a body of Christ" (1 Cor 12:27, i.e. tlie emphasis is on 
particularity) and of stressing that tlie reason why apostles are first m 
the chui'ch is because of tlieu" key role as those who, having been 
commissioned by the risen Lord, are mediators of the gospel and of 
the authoritative tradition witli it. ^^' 


Dnoa, Jesus, 275; but belter, Paiil aiid Silas (2 Cor 1:19). B am ^as was probably kiiowii to 
them merely by repute. 

Diiim, Jesffi- 274f, cf K S Hemphill: "The listing of individuals almost certainly would have 
caused the Corinthians to tliink concretely of persons ivith vdiom they were acquainted vdio 
wei'e carrying out these functions", Pauline Concept, 91. 

Dmta, Jesus, 275. 

Hemphill, however, suggests that Diinn seems "to over 
emphasise the local commimity to the detriment of the larger 
Christian community. " He draws attention to an article by Schlier in 
wliich he shows that "there are repeated attempts in this letter to link 
the individualistic Corinthians to the whole chiirch (1:2, 4:17, 7:17, 
11:16 and 14:33)."^^" It may thus be suggested that it is at least 
arguable that the reference in 1 Corinthians 12:28 is to "apostles of 
Chi'ist," at least two of whom were involved in tlie planting and 
growth of tlie Corinthian chiirch. Fvirther light is shed on the verse by 
consideration of the context. Hemphill remarks that "Paul has 
emphasised tliat God organised the body in order to provide for its 
unity. With particular emphasis on these functionaries, Paul seems 
quite clearly to be saying that there is a leadership structure, wliich 
has been established in the church by God. 

To fail to recognise tlie work of these individuals is 
tantamount to ignoring the will of God (14:33ff)." Moreover, "by 
bringing tlie apostles, prophets and teachers into close juxtaposition 
with manifestations such as gifts of healing and tongues, Paul is 
pointmg out, much to tlie surprise of tlie spirituals, that these men too 
are charismatic."'^^ Their autlionty in the chui'ch is based, at least m 
part, on their supernatural gifting. This is tlie context in which the 
primacy of apostles must be seen. Neveitheless, whether or not Paul 
envisaged a continuing authoritative role for church-planting 

~ Hemphill, Pauline Concept, 90 u 126, citing H Schliei'. 
Hemphill, Pauline Concept. 92f. 

apostles, who did not-as he did-have a special commissioning and 
revelation, is not cleai" from this verse alone. '^"' 

Ephesians 4:11 
Tliis verse are cn.icial for a Restorationist understanding of the need 
for a continuing apostolic ministry. Many commentators agree that 
Paul envisioned this. Baith, for example, comments that "in 4.1 1 it is 
assumed that the church at all times needs tlie witness of "apostles" 
and "prophets" . . . Ephesians 4 does not contain tlie faintest liint that 
the charismatic character of all chvirch mimstries was restticted to a 
certain period of chiu'ch history and was later to die out."'" 

It must be confessed tliat this is certainly tlie impression that 
the passage gives. The mam exegetical problem with tliis 
interpretation is that early in the letter, in 2:20 and 3:5, apostles and 
prophets or had been spoken of in a somewhat different way. In 3:5 
we read that the mystery of the inclusion of the Gentiles in God's 
people have now been revealed to Clirist's holy apostles and 
prophets. '^^ It may be ai'gued, however, that it represents Paul's 
awareness that he, along with and as chief representative of other 
apostles and prophets (vv 3,8ff), have been favoui'ed witli a special 


D.E. Aune, Prophecy in Earliest Christianity and ths Ancient Mediterransan World (Grand 
Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1983): "As founders of Christian communities, jostles were 
accorded the prestige and respect associated with the founders of vaiious Greco-Roniau social 
and cultural institutions (1 Cor 3:4-10; Gal 4:12-20)." 

M Barth, Ephesians 4-6 (Garden City: Doubleday, 1974), 437, cf 437 n 72, "Ephesians 
distinctly presupposes that living qDostles and prophets are essential to the church's life." 

W A Gnideui, The Oijf of Prophecy in I Corinthians (Washington DC: University Press of 
American 1982), 92. 

eschatological role'^^ as recipients of divine revelation concerning 
the church. 

This suggests that such a role may not be a continuing one. 
As for 2:20, Grudem comments tliat its nearness and similarity m 
content to 3:5 means that "the reader is justified in tliinking that the 
same people are spoken of in both verses. "^^^ An important 
exegetical issue is whetlier one should understand m 2:20 a genitive 
of origin, giving the reading "the foLindation laid by the apostles and 
prophets", or a gemtive of apposition, giving die reading "the 
foundation consisting of tlie apostles and prophets." The latter 
reading is by fat" the most natviral,'^^ the fonner is motivated by a 
desu'e to harmonise Ephesians 2:20 witli 1 Corinthians 3:11, where 
the foundation is Clii'ist himself. However, Paul is quite capable of 
using metaphors in two different ways. 

Moreover, in Ephesians Chi'ist is the cornerstone,'*" distinct 
from die foundation, which strongly supports the latter reading. In 
what sense, then, are apostles (and prophets) the foundation of tlie 
church? Sclilier ai'gues tliat it is through tlieu" preaching of Chiist: 
"There is no access to Clirist other tliaii tlii'ough the apostles and 
prophets, who have preached lirm and who themselves become and 

Knise, Foundations, "In Ephesians the scope of his (i.e. Paul's) ^ostolic influence is 
extended to cosmic dimensions. . .Fiuther, Paul's apostolate is integrally related to God's plan 
for the ages", 175; Cari^ounis, Afysferf on, 143: "he lias a central place in the declai-ation of the 
eternally -hidden mystenon of eschatological import." 


It is adopted by, e.g., H Schlier, M Barth, C Masson. 
'^^ J. Jeremias, "Pace" in TDNT A (1967), 275 

remain in their preaching the foundation."'^' Martin similarly speaks 
of the "unique role of the apostles and prophets according to this 
verse, and argues that this foundational role should be understood" to 
include both their oral witness and their literary deposits in the New 
Testament."'^" This understanding, tliough slanted to dogmatic 
considerations, is supported by the fact that in this context Paul is 
speaking of die universal-not tlie local-church. 

We conclude tliat in botli 2:20 and 3:5 the reference is to a 
unique role of apostles and prophets, which by defimtion camiot be 
continuing. Revelation once cleai'ly given need not be repeated. A 
foundation once laid need not be re-laid. Given the restricted sense 
of "apostles and prophets" in 2:20 and 3:5 it is a priori unlikely that 
a wider use is present in 4: 1 1 . Consideration should also be given to 
the insertion of die tenn "evangelists" which suggests, as Robinson 
argues, "already the term "apostle" is becoming narrowed and 
confmed to "die Twelve" and Paul."'^^ The difference in domain of 
meaning between "itmerant chiirch-planters" and "evangelists" 
would not seem to be sufficient to wari'ant the introduction of a 
second tenn, if indeed apostles in tlie sense of "itinerant church- 
planters" were in view here. 

H Scklier, Dsr Brisfan dis Epheser {Dus&eXAori: Patmos, 1957) 142; translation by RP 


" Mfutin, Family, 74. 

J Aimitage Robinson, "Christian Ministiy" inHB Swele (ed), Essays (1918). A reference 
to "iqjostles of Christ" would be more accurate tliau a reference to "the twelve and Paul." We 
cannot be sure of the limits of the miiuber commissioned by the risen Lord. 

The argument tliat Paul must have had iii observed a 
continuing minishy of hving apostles in Ephesians 4:llff is by no 
means conclusive. 

The Lucan Corpus 
There are some tliirty-foiu" uses of the word "apostle" in Luke, and 
his writings tlierefore merit special h'eatment. More importantly, 
many scholars^^"' have seen him as having a rigid view of apostleship, 
a view representing a late development in the use of tlie word and 
incompatibility with Paul's position. Giles lias argued'^^ tliat wliile it 
is true tliat "Luke develops tlie idea that the twelve are apostles in a 
special sense^^^ is quite Lintenable to argue that all tins is Lukan 
invention."'^^ The merits of the respective arguments must now be 

The Gospels 
References to apostles m tlie sense of the twelve appear in Luke 
6:13, 9:10, 17:5, 22:14 and 24:10. A reference m Luke 11:49 to a 
statement of Jesus, which is part of a prophecy of judgment couched 
in wisdom terminology ("I will send them prophets and apostles") is, 
not of primary importance. It may represent Lucan redaction of a 
Jewish saying whose Matthaean wording (Matt. 23:34-36) is more 
original. Cnicial is Luke 6:13 ("he called liis disciples and chose 


Bsrrett, Signs, 52f. 

K Giles, "Is Luke aii Exponent of "Eaily Protestantism" . . .?", in EQ 55 (Januaiy 1983), 8. 

'^^ G Klein, Die ZwolfAposte! (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Riiprecht, 1961), 203. With Luke, 
"For tlie first time the twelve aie elevated to the stEitiis of apostles." Luke, wi'iting at the 
beginning of tlie second ceutuiy, makes tlie twelve apostles, and hence the only legitiin^e 
beaiers of the divine message, apait of his struggle against Gnosticism. 

I H Mai-shall, Luke: Historian and Theologian {Exetei" Paternoster 1970), 505. 

from tliem twelve, whom he named apostles"), since it is the only 
place in the gospels which states that Jesus used tlie term "apostles" 
for the twelve, 

Roloff suggests that one should understand "whom he (later) 
called apostles"'^^ i.e. (at the tune of the sending of the twelve out on 
mission). In such a context (Luke 9:10, where Luke reproduces the 
substance of Mark 6:30 witli Ins own stylistic variations), apostleship 
might be regarded as being a short-term affair, merely for the 
duration of the mission. In light of the further references to the 
disciples as apostles, however, it is clear that for Luke, at least, tlieir 
apostlesliip was not a temporary matter. It is worth notuig that Luke, 
alone among the evangelists, also records a sending-out of seventy- 
two disciples m addition to the twelve. Kruse has argued that in Liike 
10:3 this statement, "Go youi" ways: behold, I send you foitli as 
lambs among wolves," suggests tliat he regarded their "commission 
(sic) as applymg to die troubled times tliat came with and 
immediately followed his deadi."'^^ It is interestmg that this saying is 
used in tlie context of a mission-charge to tlie twelve in Matthew 
10:16. (In Matt 10:2 the "twelve apostles" are named.)"" It shoLildbe 

3 RoloS, Apolstat-Verhindigung-Kirche (Giitersloh: Vandenhoeck &Riiprecht, 1965), 

Kruse, Foundations, 33, 27f. 

This is the only verse iii Matthew \ili ere tlie word "apostles" occurs. Elsewliere Jesus 
speaks of "the Twelve" (26:14, 20,47), of tlie disciples (passim), or of "the twelve 
disciples" (10:1; 11:1; 20:17). The context is one of mission. Siinilaily, in Mai^k 6:30, the only 
occuiience in Mark of the tenn "apostles" (if the valiant reading in Mailc 3:14 is rejected), 
there is in tlie context no thought of the creation at this tinie of a peniianent office, but rather 
the fuLfihnent of a specific commission. V. Taylor, The Gospel, According to Mark {LonAon: 
Macmillan, 1955), 319. Tlieiefore suggested to mean "the missionaries." 

noted that while Mark and Mattliew generally restrict the word 
"disciple" to the twelve and never use it for a large group, Luke 
speaks explicitly of many disciples (e.g. Liike 6:17, 19:37). 
Commenting on Luke 6:12f, Giles remarks tliat "we thus have m 
Luke two sepai'ate groups who are followers of Jesus. The many 
"disciples" and tlie twelve "apostles. "'^^ In some cases the title 
"apostles" IS clearly due to Lucan redaction.""' The reason for this 
redaction becomes clear through a study of the Acts of the Apostles. 
It shoLild be stressed, however, that the Lucan redaction was not 
ai'bitrary but had a basis in die ti'adition. 

The Acts of the Apostles 
A brief survey of die use of the title "apostle" m tlie Acts reveals 
that, apart from Acts 14:4, 14 the title is restricted to the twelve. 
Indeed, m chapter one it is shown that die number twelve is vital. 
Steps are taken as a result of which Matdiias is "enrolled witli tlie 
eleven apostles" (1:26). The apostles emerge in the early chapters as 
leaders of tlie community active m teaching (2:42), performing 
miracles (2:43, 5:12), witnessing (4:33), receiving gifts (4:35ff), 
suffering (15:18, 40), appointing other leaders {6.6; v 2 "the 
twelve"), and prayuig that new converts might receive tlie Holy 
Spirit (8:14, 18). Apart from Peter, diey remain in Jerusalem 

'^^ K. Giles, "Before and after Pawl", in Churchman 99 (1988), 243. 
'^"E.g. in Luke 22:14 (cfMittk 14:17, Matt 26:20). 

A staitliiig fact, however, is that after 11:1 they virtually 
disappear' from the stage, bemg mentioned after this point only in 
company with the elders of tlie Jeiiisalem church (15:2, 4, 5, 22, 23, 
16:4). How should we view the function of the twelve according to 
the Acts? Their mam function seems to be tliat of being a bridge 
between Jesus' earthly minishy and the life of the early church.^^^ 
They are proof tliat the risen Lord is one and the same as tlie earthly 
Jesus. Hence, Luke's sti'ess on their commission to be Jesus' 
witnesses (1 :8): tliey are able to bear witness botli to his earthly life 
(hence the qualification laid down in 1 : 21ff), and to his resuiTection 
(1:23)."'' Witness to liis eartlily life is sti'essed iti 2:22f, 5:6, and 
10:37ff-witaess to tlie reality of his resurrection in 
2:32,3:15,4:33,5:15,32,10:41, 13:31f 

The stress on tlie necessity for eyewitnesses fits in with 
Luke's introduction to his two-volume work (Luke 1:1-4), where he 
explicitly states his reliance on "those who from the beginning were 
eye-witnesses" (1:2). Giles sh'esses tliat "in Acts 4:20 (26:16) we 
read, in terms of common Jewish legal usage, that the apostles, as 
reliable witnesses, only bear witness to what they have seen and 
heard ... In tliis role tliey are the guarantors of the Word which 
brings the Cliristian community into existence.""^ Why is the 

'^^ J A Fitzuiyer, The Gospel According to Luke I-IX (Garden City: Doubleday, 1981), 253. 


I H Mai'shall, hike: Historian and Theologian, (Exeter: Paternoster Press, 1989), 43. "The 
jostles had to be men wlio had been companions of Jesus .... This Liicau emphasis is no 
doubt to be explained by tlie necessity that those vA\o bore testimony to the resunection must 
be men vvdio had ali'eady known Jesiis and therefore were properly qualified to recognise that it 
was the same person vA\o had risen from the dead." 

'^^ Giles, "Exponent", in EQ (Jau 1983), 7. 

number of apostles limited to twelve, at least in the early chapters of 
Acts? It seems clear tliat in addition to theu" aiitlienticative function, 
the apostles have a symbolic role. 

The significance of the number twelve is brought out in the 
gospel m 22:30, where tlie apostles (22:14) are promised that they 
will "sit on thi'ones judging the twelve tribes of Israel."^^^ This 
should not be understood as an indication tliat Luke portrays the 
twelve as founding fathers of a new Israel: ratlier, "For Li.ike tlie 
twelve symbolise the fact that God in Christ is restoring Israel; to 
what it should be.""^ The stress on the number twelve recLirs in the 
narrative m Acts 1 : 21ff . "The point of the story is not that twelve men 
are needed for the task, but tliat the apostles must number twelve. No 
attempt is made to fill die place of the martyred James (Acts 12:2). 
Death removes James from the work but not from tlie number. "'^^ It 
is in die light of this symbolic nmnber tliat one should consider 
Luke's restriction on the number of apostles. 

The disappearance of the apostles from the stage in die 
second half of Acts must not be considered. Giles comments tliat 
"once Luke can show that the authenticity of die kerygma had been 
established, and tliat Israel had been reconstituted, tlie importance of 

^''^ Giles Ibid, 5 

J. Jei"vell, Luke and the People ofOod (Miiine^olis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1982), 
75f, "Luke does not see the church as the new Israel", 41-74. 146. 

See also Giles, "Exponent", EQ {Jan 1983) 5; et K H Rengstorf, "the re -establishment of 
the apostolate of the twelve (sc. in the Matthias uairative) proves that the risen Lord, like tlie 
historical Jesus, has uot given up his claim to incoi-porate the twelve tribes of Israel into his 
Kingdom", "The Election of Matthias" in W Klassen and G F Snyder. 

the twelve apostles diminishes.""^ Weiser suggests a reason for this: 
"At the decisive turn of events, during the struggle for and the debate 
over the status of Gentile Cluistians, the principal actors ai'e Paul on 
the one side and James . . . tlie fact that the twelve were followed by 
otlier Apostles, principally Paul, is for Luke evidence of the 
continuance of God's history of salvation. The institution of tlie 
twelve lias no fuither role in tlie mission among the Gentiles. 
According to Acts tliis is Paul's role."'^" 

Jervell has pointed out tliat die role of die twelve shifts after 
chapter seven, where Stephen's sermon signifies the end of the 
apostles' du'ect missionary activity to Israel. After tlus point, their 
role is stressed on just three significant occasions. Fu'st, Acts 8:14ff 
connects them with Samaria (1 :8). Second, the twelve legitimise Paul 
(9:26ff). Thii'd, "tlie imtial reference to "the nations", to tlie peoples 
outside Israel (chaps 10-11) is related to Peter, who thi'oughout 
Luke-Acts is reckoned as one of the twelve."'^' These observations 
tend to support Weiser's thesis. Giles also comments tliat "indeed 
once die twelve apostles' basic role is exhausted, the title "apostle" is 
not limited solely to the twelve"'^- (et Acts 14:4, 14). It should be 
clearly understood diat this assessment of the evidence is 

I 70 

Giles, "Exponent", in EQ (Jau 1983) 7. 

T. Weiser, "Notes on the Meaning of tlie Apostolate", in //iM (April 1975) 131. 

Jei"vell, Luke, Hi; cf W Heudi'iksen, land 2 Timothy and Titus (Edinburgh: T&T Clark 
Ltd, 1959), 50. Heudriksen comments, "Tlie Twelve, by I'ecoguisiug Paul as having beeu 
specifically called to minister to the Gentiles, were in effect canying out through hiin theii' 
calling to tlie Gentiles." 

"^" Giles, "Exponent", in EQ (Jau 1983) 7. 

controversial. The consensus of German scholars'^^ is that in Acts 
14:4- 14, Luke is following a source, and tliat he understands Paul in 
these verses to be a missionary of tlie church of Antioch, not an 
apostle of equal standing with the twelve. 

Sclimithals, for example, writes that "when Luke in Acts 
1 4: 4, 1 4, following a soui'ce, also calls Barnabas and Paul apostles, 
he therewitli reveals that tlie concept of apostle for Paul was not 
unknown to hrm, but at the same time he tendentiously makes it clear 
that Paul beai's tliis title only as does Barnabas, i.e. not in tlie sense of 
a fimdamental autliority tliat autlienticates all tradition and goes back 
to Clii'ist himself, but in tlie general and relatively unimportant sense 
of a missionary sent out by tlie community at Antioch."'^'' Against 
such an ai'gument, various points may be raised. As Gasque puts it, 
"it is obvious that Paul is Luke's hero and chui'ch planting 
missionary par excellence. "'^^ 

Similarly, Wilson points out that Paul is equal to Peter when 
it comes to miracles, is called God's "chosen vessel" (Acts 9:15), 
and is distinguished by his suffering. '^^ It should be recognised that 
Luke places great emphasis on Paul's call and commissioning as an 
apostle to the Gentiles, recording it tliree times (9:1-19; 22:1-21; 

Haenchen, Conzelinann and Vielliaiier. 


W. Schmithals, The Office of Apostle in the Early Church (New York: Abiiigdou, 1969), 

W Ward Gasqiie,j4 History of the Criticism of the Acts of tlw Apostles (Gi'aiid Rapids: 
Eerdmans, 1975), 241, ii 118, ciiticising Haenchen. 

S G Wilson, The Oentiles and the Gentile Mission in Luke-Acts {C?aahn6te,6: University 
Press, 1973), 116. 

26:2-18), and containing tlie verbs e^ajcoaT8A.A.a) (22:21) and 
ajcoaxeA.A.0) (26:17) inliis account of Paul's testimonies to it. Brown 
summarises: "In encountering the risen Cliiist on tlie Damascus 
Road, Paul fulfilled a basic qualification for apostlesliip, that of 
being "a witness to his resurrection" (Acts 1:22). 
He did not fulfil tlie other condition, that of beuig a follower of Jesus 
in his eartlily ministry. In short the pictLire that Acts paints is not that 
Paul was not an apostle, but tliat he was an apostle extraordmaiy 
which is consonant with Paul's own account (1 Cor 9:lff; 15:5-9; Gal 
1:12-17). "''' 

Finally, to quote Wilson, "if it was imperative for Luke to 
restrict the title to tlie twelve, it is difficult to understand why he did 
not omit 14:lf or at least erase tlie word "Apostle. "'^^ Finally, it 
should be recognised that Luke's major concern is not ecclesiastical 
office. "In reality Luke is much more concerned about tracing tlie 
growth of the church in various parts of tlie eastern Mediterranean 
world and with the spread of the Word of God through it to "the end 
of the earth" (Acts 1:8) than in the details of chui'ch shaicture."'^^ 

"^ C Browu, MDNTTI, 136, cf I H Mai-shall, The Acts of the Apostles {Leicester: luter-Varsity 
Press, 1980), 35: Luke "lecoguises that there was a group of apostles, commissioned by Jesus, 
wider than the twelve, and he does not deny that Paiil and Barnabas belong to this group." 

Wilson, Gentiles, 116. 

Fitzmyer, Lute I-IX, 256. 

The Apostles of Today 

McArthur believes that like the apostles, however, tlieir office ceased 

with tlie completion of the New Testament, just as the Old Testament 

prophets disappeared when that testament was completed, some 400 

years before Christ. The chiu'ch was established "upon the 

foundation of the apostles anti prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being 

the comer stone" (Eph. 2:20). Once tlie foundation was laid, the 

work of tlie apostles and prophets was fmished. '^** Grudem simply 

states that no one is fully qualified to be an apostle, not even 

Athanasiiis, Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Wesley, nor Whitefield.^^^ On 

the otlier hand, some argue for tlie existence and continuation of die 

office today since the scriptui'e never indicates tliat the office had 

ceased. Cannistrarci, for example, believes that the apostles are not 

to be "spiritual dinosaui's who were meant to become extinct m some 

kuid of preordained ice age." His contention is that no scriptiii'al 

evidence is found to suggest that the apostolic office was meant to be 

temporary. '^' 

Yet others have margmalised tlie office of apostle through 

what may be inteipreted as a form of benign mdifference. For 

example. Article VII of the "Bylaws of the Assemblies of God" in 

the United States reads: 

Section 1: Ministry Described. Christ's gifts to the Church include 
apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers (Eph 4:11), 

J. McArthur, "First Corinthians", in The MacAithur New Testament Commentary (Chicago: 
Moody Press, 1984), 322-24. 

Grudem, Systematic Theology, 911. 
" Cannistraci, The Gift of Apostle, 81. 

exhorters, administrators, leaders, and helpers (Rom 12:7-8). We 
understand God's call to these ministry gifts is totally within his 
sovereign discretion without regard to gender, race, disability, or 
national origin J^^ 

It is ail Lindeiiiable fact tliat, iii practice, many pastors and 

national leaders withm die Assemblies today have serious 

reservation and difficulties in acknowledging the existence of the 

office today. This may be lai'gely due to the ecclesiastical traditions 

that they were from, before experiencing and embracing 

Pentecostalism. There is a growing belief among the churches today 

that we are experiencing the emergence of an apostolic movement in 

wliich the Spirit of God is activating apostles and apostolic people to 

come togetlier as a pait of a great revival on eaith. Bill Hamon, tlie 

president and founder of Christian International Network of 

Prophetic Ministries, predicts tlie commg of an "Apostolic 

Refonnation" and die "ascension gift of the apostle" to be fully 

restored during this "last generation" of die chi.irch.^^''Carmistraci 

differentiates the function of an apostle and of an apostolic person 

today,''^ while Wagner provides a typical definition of an apostle 


The gift of apostle is the special ability that God gives to certain 
members... to assume and exercise general leadership over a number 
of churches with an extraordinary authority in spiritual matters-. . 

"Bylaws of the General Council oftlte Assemblies ofOod" (Revised, August 10, 1993). 

Bill Hamon, Apostles, Prophets and the Commg Moves of God: God 's End-Time Plans for 
His Church and Planet Eaiih {Santa Rosa, FL: Christian lutematioual, 1997), 10, 13. 

Cannistraci, Ths Gift of Apostle, 29, In addition, Cannistraci defines "iqjostolic churches" to 
be "those that recognize and relate to these apostles and vAio aie active in vaiying fonns of 
^ostolic ministiy." 

They are those to whom pastors and church leaders can go for 
counsel and help. They are peacemakers, trouble-shooters and 
problem solvers. They can make demands that may sound autocratic 
but that are gladly accepted because people recognise the gift and 
the authority' it carries with it. They have the overall picture in focus 
and are not restricted in vision to the problems of one local 

In addi'essiiig the question of apostolic autliority, some have 
dismissed the issue by describing tlie apostles of today to be "self- 
appointed apostles." The implication here is that tlie so-called 
apostolic office has no basis in Scripture otlier than an unhealthy 
personal desu'e for a lofty title or for undue power. It must be pointed 
out that God is tlie One who does the appomtmg and recognising 
what He has done rests witli us, tlie church. This is what we 
acknowledge in an ordination service for pastors for example — 
confirmmg publicly what God has akeady done in tlieir lives. We 
rai'ely hear of pastors, described neitlier as being "self-appointed" 
nor of teachers or evangelists. While acknowledging thatthere might 
be some spurious apostles in oiii" midst, we should not respond by 
throwing the function of this gift to Church. 

Peter C. Wagner, Your Spiritual Gifts Can Help Your Church Grow, rev. ed. (Ventura, CA: 
Regal Books, 1994), 181-82. 

False Apostles 

The existence of a class of missionary apostles is increased by Paul's 
reference to his opponents in Corinth as "false apostles" in 2 
Corinthians 11:13. From chapters 10 to 13 as a whole, '^^ we learn 
that the mtruders clamied an apostolic authority superior to Paul's, 
based on the followmg signs: their rhetorical eloquence and 
impressive personal bearing, their boldness and missionary 
achievements, tlieu" special religious knowledge derived from 
exti'aordinaiy visions and revelations, and theu" ability to perfoim 
miracles. ^^^ In 2 Corinthians 11:13, they are described as "deceitful 
workers, transforming tliemselves into the apostles of Chiist." 
Barrett comments, "They made themselves look like (and this must 
include, they claimed to be) apostles of Clirist when tliey were no 
such thing. ^^^ Almost certainly tliey were Jewish (1 1 :22), though not 
necessarily Judaisers. It is unlikely that they were Jewish-Christian 
Gnostics "since every reference to "knowledge" in 2 Corinthians is 
unqualifiedly affinnative."-" 

Fumish's verdict that "the evidence as a whole strongly 
favours the view that Paul was confronting Christian missionaries 
whose background was, like his own, Hellenistic- Jewish"-**^ seems 


DA Cai'sou, From Tnumphalism to Maturity: an Exposition of 2 Corinthians 10-13 
(Grand R^ids: Eerduians, 1984) 4ff. 


V.P Furnish, 2 Corinthians (Gaiden City: Doubleday, 1984), 503f,pace. e.g., E. 
Kasemann, C K Barrett. 


C K Barrett, Essays on Paul (London: SPCK, 1982), 93. 
Furnish, 2 Connthians, 53. 

=°' Ibid. 53. 

eminently sensible. The relationsliip of these missionai'ies with the 
Jerusalem chiu'ch is controversial and need not detain us. In light of 
Galatians 2:1-10 it is inconceivable tliat they were, or included, 
members of tlie twelve. The fact that tliey could plausibly claim to be 
apostles in Corinth proves that tlie number of apostles was not 
definitely restricted. '°' 

' Rufiis Anderson, Foreign Missions: Their Relations and Claims (New York: Chailes 
ScribnerandCo.,1869), 115-116. 

Peter Wagner's Theology 

Peter Wagner, one of tlie major spokesmen for this movement, sees 
present-day apostles having "unusual authority." Wagner says, 
"Until recently the central focus of autliority in oiii" churches existed 
in groups, not in individuals. Tiiist has been placed in sessions, 
consistories, nommating committees, deacon boards, ttiistees, 
congregations, presbyteries, associations, general coLincils, cabinets, 
conventions, synods and the like. Rai'ely has for ultimate 
decision-making been given to individuals such as pastors or 
apostles. This, however, is changing decisively in the New Apostolic 
Refonnation. "-"' 

Wagner identifies several characteristics of apostles, basing 
his claims on a biblical assessment of the Unique Apostles we have 
identified above. The items he lists deserve serious consideration for 
present-day leaders, but I question his assumption that the apostolic 
autliority of tlie Umque Apostles extends to leaders beyond the first 
century in the way Wagner Lirges. Wagner says, "Paul's authority as 
an apostle came from tlie same sources that provide today's apostles 
with their extraordmaiy autliority,""""' He lists the following: 

J. Rodinau Wiliiaiiis, Renewal Theology, Vol. HI (Grand R^ids: Zoudervaii Publishing 
House, 1996), 165-7. 
-"'' C. Peter Wagner, v4posf/es and Prophets (Ventura, Calif : Regal Books, 2000), 25. 

Apostles have a spiritual gift (charisma) 

Wagner cites the catalog of giftings foimd in 1 Corinthians 12, 
referring especially to v. 28. "Ai'e all apostles?" Certainly not, 
Wagner affirms, but by implication, some in the chui'ch are 
apostles!'''^ But to what kind of apostles was Paul referring? Was he 
speaking of tlie Unique Apostolate, or of specially-gifted and called 
ambassadors sent out as missionaries on frontier assignments-the 
general apostles? 

Apostles have an assignment-or call 

Citmg 1 Corintluans 12:4-6, Wagner recognises that those endowed 
with charismatic leadership do not all have the same ministry or 
sphere of activity.'"^ I have no quarrel with Wagner on tins point, 
except to question whetlier Paul was speaking here of general 
apostles, tlie missionaries of tlie Eai'ly Church, rather than the 
Unique Apostles who have special credentials. 
Apostles have extraordinary character 

Wagner appeals here for holding leadership m the church to a high 
standard.-"^ Who would question the desire to have church leaders 
whose lives are above reproach? Nevertheless, Wagner does not 
support this high-mmded desire for apostolic credentials with 
Scriptures that specifically single out apostles. Tliis clearly is a 
matter of general concern for church leadership in any capacity. 

Wagner, Apostles and Prophets, 26. 
'"^ Wagner, 27. 
^"^ Wagner, 28. 

Apostles have followers 

Wagner's point here is quite pragmatic: leaders have followers. 
You can recognise apostles by the fact that they have a 
following.-**^ This statement, of course, applies quite broadly to 
all leadership, even beyond the church world. 
Apostles have vision 

Wagner sees tiaie apostles as leaders who have the ability to cast 
vision for others. He sees modern-day apostles receiving "special 
revelations" from God, either thi'ough dii'ect communication 
from God or through prophets in the church.-**^ Pentecostals and 
charismatics of today certainly should be open to receiving 
prophetic insights, either directly or tlirough otliers in the church 
who may have a "word from the Lord." However, it is not at all 
clear from the New Testament that tliis is to be limited to 
apostles. Perhaps what Wagner is wishing to communicate is that 
true apostles regularly exhibit such special insights from God. 
Apostles have determined spheres^'" 

To this I heartily ascribe. However, the calling of apostles ("sent 
ones") to differing fields and kinds of leadership service fit 
mcely into the picture provided in the New Testament of general 
apostles, or missionaries."" The fimdamental question I have for 
Wagner cenfres in his apparent blun'mg of tlie boundaries 

' Wagner, 28, 29. 
' Wagiier, 32-33. 

Wa^er, Apostles and Prophets, 33-37. 
^''Wagner, 38, 39. 

between the cai'efiilly limited authority of tlie Unique Apostles 

and all otlier apostles, "sent ones" or frontier missionaries. 

Because of this, it appears that Wagner lias opened the door to 

serious abuses of power and autliority. 

The Theology of David Cartledge 
David Cartledge has called for an "Apostolic Revolution." Cnicial to 
his methodology is his call for a "Pentecostal heimeneutic." 
Cartledge biiishes aside not only liberal methods of biblical 
interpretation but castigates modern Pentecostals for submitting to 
the "rationalism" inherent in orthodox evangelical hermeneutics. He 
casts aspersion on the idea of lunituig oiii" hearing from God to the 
words of die Bible. Cartledge says, "A tliird and quite confusing 
hermeneutical method is that employed by many evangelicals. They 
insist that God only speaks to people through die Bible. At face 
value, this appears to be highly commendable. 

However, further exammation reveals that this is closer to 
rationalism than faith. It is actually a defence (sic) mechamsm that 
enables them to deny anything supematui'al."-'- Cartledge fails to 
distingmsh the unique apostolic authority of the Bible from all other 
admissible revelations -such as prophetic utterances-that are available 
to the church. By dismissing evangelical commitment to die 
autliority of the written Word of God, Cartledge opens the door to a 
disturbmg level of subjectivism. In addition, flowing out of this 
understanding of "continumg revelation," he hands contemporary 

' " J. Rodman Williams, Renewal Theology, 169. 

church leaders, to whom he assigns the office of apostle, a kind of 
aufliority that rises above human criticism. Cartledge places these 
modem-day apostles withm local chui'ches.'^^ One is inclmed to 
suspect that any successful pastor of a large, tht'iving chui'ch may be 
included within an identifiable circle of fellow apostles -leaders 
whose judgments ai'e to be followed uncritically by theit" respective 

After all, who is going to dispute witli an apostle? One 
wonders to whom tliese leaders are accountable. What checks are 
there for the possibility of abiise of such great power?-''' Caitledge 
points out tliat, m deference to the democratically oriented citizenry 
of his nation, tlie apostles in tlie Australian Assemblies of God ai'e 
not given the title of apostle. Cartledge makes clear that the function- 
not the title-of apostle is critical.''^ A central thesis of Cartledge 
based on tlie recent histoiy of tlie Assemblies of God in Austi'alia, is 
that tlieir fresh look at die biblical model of chui'ch leadership has 
released the churches to fresh vision, vitality, and growth. However, 
a preliminary opinion of the author is tliat creatmg a situation in 
wliich mdividual chinch leaders aie supplied with virtually unlimited 
power opens the door to serious abuse. Moreover, tliere remains tlie 
critical issue of just how biblical is this new "restoration" model. 

Cartiedge,Apostolic Revolution, 169. 
' Cartledge, Apostolic Revolution, 267. 

James Cobble, The Church and the Powers, (Peabody Mass: Hendiucksou Publishers, 
1988), 91,92. 


It appears that the question of whetlier New Testament- like apostles 
should be restored to the modem church must begin with the issue of 
religious authority. Clearly, the Early Chui'ch operated under the 
Christ-given authority of the Umque Apostles. A case can be made 
for a distmction between tlie Unique Apostles and the minishy of 
otliers in the New Testament era — tliose who were called "apostles" 
in a more general sense — as emissaries of local churches. AMiough 
such "sent ones" canied considerable authority, it is quite clear that 
such autliority did not reach the level of die Unique Apostles. 
Consequently, it is questionable whether giving the title of "apostle" 
to any present-day individuals is m order. 

The reason for this caution is clear. To many, the title 
"apostle" bears tlie connotation of autliority on a level witli tlie 
Scriptures. It is helpful to learn that the Australian Assemblies of 
God has not felt it necessary to title their significant charismatic 
leaders "apostles." They liave sought to make central the concept of 
apostolic functions ratlier tlian supplymg titles that may occasion 
unexpected consequences. A case may be made tliat, m the New 
Testament, those sent out from tlie various churches on special 
pioneer assignments were expected to go in the power of the Holy 
Spirit. Charismatic mmistry was considered ciiicial for die 
development and expansion of the Eai'ly Chui'ch. There is no 
indication that this urgency has changed. Certainly, the church of the 

twenty-first century needs leaders-called by God-to minister in 
apostolic power. 

The Pentecostal and charismatic churches of our day need 
the anointing of the Holy Spuit and need to recogmse and make 
room for those whom God has set apart for special apostolic seiTice. 
Tliis has been tiaie from the begmning of the modern Pentecostal 
movement and continues to be true in out" time, as well. God 
continues to call people to pioneer service in many fields. He is 
equippmg humble vessels witli supernatural abilities and autliority- 
with no need for any special kind of title. It is the function, not the 
name that is cnicial inspired at the beginning of the twentieth century 
with the anival of tlie Pentecostal awakenmg. The early Pentecostals 
challenged the commonly accepted "cessationist" theology that 
dommated evangelical Christianity. They resisted the attempt of 
fimdamentalist Protestantism to confme tlie supematui'al work of 
God to the Apostolic Age. 

They msisted tliat, in an important sense, tlie work of the 
Holy Spirit described m the Book of Acts was mtended to be the 
model by which the vitality of tlie church should be measured. The 
early Pentecostals' strong stance has led to tlie recognition by much 
of the contemporaiy chui'ch world-howbeit reluctantly-that tlie 
church must make a greater place for the supernatural dimension of 
Christianity, including charismatic gifts andmimstries.''^ The rapidly 
changmg demographics of tlie chui'ch disclose that charismatically 

Jon Riithveu, On the Cessation of tlie Charismata (Sheffield, Englaud: Sheffield Academic 
Press, 1997), 206. 

oriented Christian groups are among the fastest-growmg segments of 
the church today. As a result, older, traditional chiu'ches must 
acknowledge tliat tlie chui'ches of tlie future will be inclmed to be 
apostolic in cliaracter.-" 

Philip Jenkins, The Next Christendom (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002). This is 
a major theme throughout the book. 


Wayne Gnidem writes: 

If any in modern times want to take the title "apostle " to themselves, 
they immediately raise the suspicion that they may be motivated by 
inappropriate pride and desires for self-exaltation, along with 
excessive ambition and a desire for much more authority in the 
church than any one person should rightfully have.^^^ 

The Pentecostal scholar Vinson Synan adds, "Most people in 
church histoiy who have claimed to be new apostles have been 
branded as heretics and excommmiicated from the church. ""'' The 
resentment and conflict on the issue is due in part to the difficulty of 
clearly defining die nature and function of these modem-day 
apostles. David Cannish'aci asks a pointed question: "To escape the 
discomfort of the actual term 'apostle,' have we arbih'arily retired it 
and replaced it with die more sanitaiy title of 'missionary' (a term 
not found m Sciipture)?"--" This is certainly an mteresting point 
raised by Cannistraci tliat may well be hue. 

Wayne Grndeui, Systematic Theology (Giraud R^ids, MI; Zondervau, 2000), 911. 

Vinson Synan, "Who Are the Modem Apostles?" 'mMinistnes Today, March-April, 1992, 
pp. 42-47 (45). 

David Cannistraci, The Qift of Apostle: A Biblical Look at Apostleship and How God Is 
Using It to Bless His Church Today (Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 1996), 78. 

"Foundational Apostles" 

The various people below claim to be foimdational Apostles to the 
modem chui'ch. 
C. Peter Wagner 

Wagner believes tliat, 

^"Apostles and prophets the foundation of the Church and, identify as 
James an apostle as my function as a horizontal apostle to bring 
together the people of the body of Christ not only can I do it, I love 
to do it. Yesterday I was the apostle with a group of about 15-20 
prophets we met all day long, and these prophets many of whom are 
going to be speakers in this conference come under my guidance, 
coordination and leadership as an apostle. They each have apostles 
in their own networks but I mean they are under spiritually. But I'm 
the one that brings them together and when "I" bring them together 
things happen.^^' 

In Wagner's book. Apostles of tlie City: How to Mobilise the 

Territorial Apostles for City Transformation, he attempts to describe 

wliat the local role of tliese apostles might be. He defines Apostles 

to the City as those 

''''whom the Holy Spirit gives an anointing for extraordinary 
authority in spiritual matters over the other Christian 
leaders in the same city. " While not excluding others, 
Wagner hypothesises that the most extensive pool for 
identifying apostles of the city is among the mega 


C. Peter Wagner, National School of the Prophets {Mobilizing the Prophetic Office, 
Colorado Sprmgs, CO, May 11, 2002,), Tape #1. 

Orell Steinkainp, "The Apostles Are Coming To Your City, Ready or Not" in The 
Plumblme, Vol. 6, No. 2, March/April 2001. 

In the brochiu'e advertising C. Peter Wagner's conference in 

Brisbane, the following was written: 

"The New Apostolic Reformation is an extraordinary work 
of the Holy Spirit that is changing the shape of Christianity 
globally. It is truly a new day! The Church is changing. New 
names! New methods! New worship expressions! The Lord is 
establishing the foundations of the Church for the new 
millennium. This foundation is built upon apostles and 
prophets. Apostles execute and establish God's plan on the 
earth. The time to convene a conference of the different 
apostolic prophetic streams across this nation is now! This 
conference will cause the Body to understand God's 'new' 
order for this coming era. "'^^ 

Tommi Femrite 

Femrite states, "It is time for the apostolic leaders of nations to rise 

up and proclaim into the heavenlies of the nations where they have 

apostolic voice and authority to speak and legislate in the 

heavenlies. "^^^ 

Bill Hamon 

At the National Symposium on tlie Post-Denominational Church, 

May 21 -23, 1 996. Bill Hamon said, 

"this was a historical occasion in God's annals of Church 
history. It was prophetically orchestrated by the Holy Spirit 
to fulfill God's progressive purposes of bringing His church 
to its ultimate destiny. . . the consensus of the panelists was 
that there are still apostles and prophets in the Church, and 

Peter Wagner aiid Ben Gray, (Brochure For Brisbane 2000, as cited in Jumping On The 
Bandwagon -Australian Christian Churches Seduced by the Beat of a Different Diummer'' , 
Hughie Seaborn, 1999, 

Tommi Femrite (9-12-01), cited in September 14th, 2001, Open Memoraudiim Addiessing 
the Twin Towers War, From: C. Peter Wagner, Presiding Apostle, International Coalition of 
Apostles, Colorado Springs, 

there is an emerging Apostolic Movement that will 
revolutionize the 21st Century Church. "^^^ 

Paul Cain 

Cain states that, 

"No prophet or apostle who ever lived equalled the power of 
these individuals in this great army of the Lord in these last 
days. No one ever had it, not even Elijah or Peter or Paul, 
or anyone else enjoyed the power that is going to rest on this 
great army. "^^^ 

Jack Deere 

Jack Deere says tliat witli the tliird wave would come end time 

apostles and prophets who would "do greater works than the 

apostles, than Jesus, or any other Old Testament prophets. "^^^ 

Rod Parsley 

On the program. Parsley appealed to the Hicks "prophecy " 
and added the twist that we are not to look to the Book of 
Acts, but to afar greater, future day of miracles. Parsley's 
claim is that there is an end-time Church coming greater 
than the Church of the Apostles, which will routinely heal 
the sick and raise the dead.^^^ 

streams. Rivers, Floods, Avalanches, cited by Jewel van der Merwe, Dsicernment 
Ministries Newsletter, 
" Bob Jones audPaiil Cain "Selections from the Kansas City Prophets, "audiot^e (t^e: 

'" Jack Deere, "Intimacy With God and the End Time Church, "Vineyard Christian 
Fellowship, Denver, CO, 1989, audiotape (session 2A) 

Rod Paisley, The Raging Prophet "Breahng Through " His Uuortliodox Doctiine aud 
Practice by G. Richaid Fisher, http:/Avww. 

Rick Joyner 

Rick Joyiier on the subject of the latter-day apostles and prophets 

who will be greater than the apostles and prophets of Biblical tunes: 

"In the near future we will not be looking back at the early 
church with envy because of the great exploits of those days, 
but all will be saying that He certainly did save His best 
wine for last. The most glorious times in all of history have 
not come upon us. You, who have dreamed, of one day being 
able to talk with Peter, John and Paul, are going to be 
surprised to find that they have all been waiting to talk to 
you. '"'' 

'^'^ Rick Joyiier, The Hanest (Pineville, NC, MomingStai-, 1990), 9. 


Some feel tliat tlie problem with tlie church is tliat tliere is? no 

apostohc and prophetic leadersliip. The laity needs to be held more 

accountable. The chiu'ch is floLmdermg for lack of leadership, 

vision, and authority. '^° So to fill tliat need, apostles and prophets 

are sprmging up around the world with Wagner as tlie "chief 

apostle." It IS time to get organised according to true Biblical 

principals, states Wagner. He claims that the reason for tlie success 

of the early church was that it had a foundation: apostles first and 

prophets second. Today, tliere is no foundation to build upoii.-^' 

Wagner believes tliere have been apostles and prophets down 

through church liistory-visionaiy leaders such as Martin Luther-but 

they simply were not recognised as such. 

The present-day chui'ch lias been founded upon teachers and 
admimstrators ever since the sermon became tlie focal pomt of tlie 
worship service, therefore, tliere is no leadership or vision.-^' He 
quotes George Bama, Christian researcher and pollster as saying, 
"As long as the Church persists in being led by teachers, it will 
flounder. Identifying, developing, deploying and supporting gifted 
leaders will renew the vision, energy and impact of the Chvirch.""^^ 
In "Church quake J" his 71,000-word textbook, he claims the "New 

Proponents of the New Apostolic Reformation aud Restoration ists 

C.P. V/aga6i;Apost!es and Prophets, the Foundation of the Church (Ventura, CA: Regal 

Books, 2000), 8. 

'^- Ibid, 10. 

-^^ Ibid, 11. 

Apostolic Reformation" will be as revoliitioiiaiy and eaith sliattering 
as Maitin Lutlier's. Wagner is a great proponent of meta churches 
and cell churches. He embodies the merging of the "church growth 
movement," cell chiu'ches, tlie "New Apostolic Reformation," and 
the dominion tlieology of "kmgdom now." He is very prolific and 
wrote another titled ^/lo^rfe^ of the City: How to Mobilise Territorial 
Apostles for City Transformation, m which he describes the 
organisation of the apostles. 

Trans-local apostles are over the pastors who are over the 
people, being accountable to one another gouig up the hierarchy. 
Wagner believes tliat a visionaiy apostolic leader is needed to 
oversee a move of God. Wagner and other proponents believe that 
the apostles and prophets will lead the body of Christ in establishing 
the Kingdom of God on earth. These "apostles" will lead the church 
into have dominion over the earth. In the book entitled, "Moving in 
the Apostolic," by John Eckhai'dt with the foreword by C. Peter 
Wagner. He puts foith the following four premises: 

1 . The Church has been given a commission. 

2. Tliis commission is an apostolic commission. 

3. Tliis commission must and will be fulfilled. 

4. Since the commission is apostolic, it will take an apostolic 
anointing to fulfil it.'^ 

He claims tliat the Holy Spirit is an apostolic Spirit and only an 

"apostolic chuich" can fulfil the Great Commission. -^^ He claims that 

apostles are officers of tlie Church and "an officer is an executive. 

John Eckhaidt, Mov;/!g in the Apostolic ((Ventiua: Renew Books, 1999), 21. 
C.P. Wagner, 4posf/es and Prophets, the Foundation of the Church, 24 

aiid executives have the authority to execute commissions.""^^ It is 
an affront to tlie Body of Christ-the true chiirch-to say that apostles 
can only fulfil the Gi'eat Commission. Neveitlieless, he goes on to 
mention that "Strongholds ai'e major liindrances to tlie advancement 
of the Church and must be dealt with apostohcally.""^^ He claims 
these are only destroyed through apostolic ministry. He states, 
"AMiough eveiy believer has rank to cast out devils, apostles walk 
and minister m tlie highest rank. Evil spirits and angles recognise 
this rank. Apostles are the spiritual commanders of the Chui'ch.""^^ 
He goes on to claim tliat only tlie apostle has the authority to execute 
the plans and purposes of God: "These are the military generals and 
commanders who will mobilise the people of God. . . ""^^ 

The apostles and prophets movement ties in with "territorial 
spirits," spiritual mappmg, cell churches, tlie cliLirch growth 
movement, etc. For tliem, there is a hierarchy witli apostles over 
several cities, and pastors act as super-eldersliip over a single city. It 
seems that this is not a "new" movement, for it is similai" to the 
Roman Catliolic Chui'ch. There is more to tlie agenda than just 
organisation. Theu" goal is conquest. Liberal Protestant Chui'ches 
such as the Presbyterians, Congregationa lists, Methodists, etc. have 
always been "a-" or "post- millenarian" (i.e. meaning that they do 
not expect Christ to come and reign a thousand years, it is the 

'^^ Ibid, 32. 
'" Ibid, 60. 
^^^ Ibid ,63. 

C.P. Wagtitr, Apostles and Prophets, the Foundation of the Church , 65 

church's job to bring God's kingdom to eaitli), holduig a position not 
imlike the Roman Catholic Church. All of tliese different branches- 
from die Roman Catliolic Chiu'ch, to tlie liberal Protestant, to tlie 
Charismatic Churches of the Apostles, and Prophets Movement- 
come together with tlie goal of overtaking political and social 

Early in liistoiy, the church got off track and went tlie way of the 
world widi clergy, buildings, and all; but m die beginning, it was not 
so. In the days of tlie Old Testament, people needed leaders and 
heroes like David and Sampson, but not so in tlie New Testament 
period. We all have equal access to God and can go boldly before the 
throne of God. We are like a vine-not a tree-for eveiy bom-again 
believer is plugged into the vine. However to, create a New 
Testament hierarchal model is going back into the Old Covenant, for 
they are reinstating die Priest but calling them "apostles" and 
"prophets." We may as well just all become Roman Catholics, for 
where the laity lost all touch with God and had to go through a priest. 
Today's apostate church uses tlie world's corporate or military 
model. The "chiirch" of titles, ranks, and job descriptions is from the 
world-not the Lord. 

Man IS not the head of the chui'ch; Jesus is. There is only 
one head to the body, and all instructions are issued from the head. 
They do not flow down through the body for every part of the body 
has a direct connection to tiie head. The world needs liierai'chy and 

outward control. Jesus said, "Ye know tliat the princes of the 

Gentiles exercise dominion over tliem, and they that ai'e great 

exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but 

whosoever will be great among you, let hmi be youi" mimster; and 

whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant, even as 

the Son of man came not to be ministered Lmto, but to mimster, and 

to give His life a ransom for many" (Matthew 20:25-28). 

Jesus repeats this m Liike 22:25-27, the Gentile world 

operates on the basis of a chain-of-command. Authority is based on 

position and rank. Leaders measure their greatness by power, 

influence, and prominence. In the kmgdom of God, tlie greatest is 

least and the least the greatest. The niler is die one who seives die 

most. God's way is tlie absolute opposite of the world's way. The 

New Testament patli is where we have a people controlled by tlie 

indwellmg Spirit. Satan and the world always need hierarchy-not so 

in the body of Christ. Nevertheless, what about religious audiority? 

Are we not supposed to revere and respect religious leaders? Jesus 


But be not ye called Rabbi; for one is your Master, even 
Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father 
upon the earth; for one is your Father, which is in heaven, 
neither be ye called masters; for one is your Master, even 
Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your 
servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; 
and he that shall humble shall himself be exalted (Matthew 

In the Jewish and apostate Christian world, there ai'e religious leaders 
with titles - Rabbi, Pastor, Bishop, Priest, Reverend, Father, etc-but 
it should not be so among us. We are merely brothers and sisters in 
Christ, each gifted and functioning in His body. Elders oversee. 
None of them "lord it over" tlie flock. We are all equals with 
different functions (ICor 12:25-26). 

Offices or Functions? 
The early chui'ch did not have a person who was the Chief Executive 
Officer who directed the staff, preached on Sundays and conducted 
weddings, funerals, and Euchai'istic services, and perfoimed 
psychological counselling. This is an extra-Biblical cany-over from 
the Roman Catholic Chui'ch. Now-if the Wagner's have their way- 
we will have another hierarchy of apostles paralleling Rome. There 
is no such figurehead in tlie chiirch. It is this very clergyAaity 
organisation tliat has had such a crippling effect on die saints. 

The saints themselves should be shepherding, overseeing, 
and teaching-not some "professional" who has advanced post- 
graduate education in chiirch growth, management, organisation, 
creator of programs, exegesis of the Word, and chief cook. There is 
no such thing m tlie New Testament as an elder-driven, board-driven, 
or pastor-led church. The chiirch is simply brothers and sisters in 
Christ meeting together and ministering to one another. I Corinthians 
12:28 does not describe an organisational hierarchy when he writes, 
"and God has appointed in tlie church, fu'st apostles, second 

prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, 
administrations, various kinds of tongues." 

He describes logical functions: die one who gives birth to the 
church (die apostle), die one who imparts vision (the prophet), the 
one who lays the Biblical foundation (die teacher) and so on. When 
describing characteristics of elders or deacons, Paul is talking about 
qualities of a person functioning in that capacity-not qualifications 
for an office. A brother or sister fimctions in a group because he has 
been dealt with and refined by the daily working of tlie Holy Spirit. 
Others recognise their gift, theu" experience, and their authority m 
certain matters. But, tliese are gifts and functions — not offices held. 
Their legitimacy is recognised by others because of their 
"servanthood" and tlieir fiiiit-not because tliey were elected or 
appointed to office. 

In the Old Testament and in tlie world, authority depends upon 
position. Ones respects and cedes to the authority of anodier person 
because of tlieir a lugher position. Many Churches today would have 
everyone in an organisation chart where everyone is over someone 
else. In the case of die "apostles and prophets" movement, an 
apostle would be over die pastors of a city, who preside over 
congregations and the flow of authority would go down through the 
pastoral staff or elders, deacons, cell group leaders, etc for eveiy 
single person should be under someone. 

There is a Biblical form of subjection to aiitliority, but it is 
not in this way. It is an attitude of mutual submission-a voluntary 
attitude led by the Holy Spirit. There is only one "head" and 
autliority in the Church, and tliat is Jesus Christ (Jolin 17:2). As we 
submit to Him, He may have us submit to otliers - a mutual 
subjection but not a subjection that is insisted upon because of 
someone's position. That is the way of the world. He is veiy clear 
in the verses above, "let it not be so among you"(Matt. 20:26). The 
Bible does not teach tliat believers have authority over other 
believers. Tliis type of authority is condeimied in the church. "The 
kings of the Gentiles lord it over tliem; and those who have authority 
over them are called "Benefactors." But no so wMi you, but let hun 
who is greatest among you become tlie youngest, and the leader as 
the servant"(Luk:e 22:25-26). 

Divine authority is not conferred, inherited, ordained, or 
claimed by men, including the self-appointed apostles. Divine 
autliority is exercised by a person who is acting in the Spuit but it is 
not intrinsic or positional autliority. It cannot be imposed upon 
people. It is recognised and accepted because of the working of the 
Spirit in tlie body of Christ. It derives from the Head and is 
recogmsed by others as commg from the head because it is earned 
rather than absolute and positional. Christ's authority flows tlirough 
the mature Christian and others recognise die merit and worth of that 
autliority. Divme authority is never in a hierarchy nor found in an 
office or position. Its source is tlie indwellmg Spuit. The kind of 

accountability in vogue today is not Biblical and is often the excuse 
for a "fisliing expedition" into die intimate details of a person's life- 
from sexual matters, to finance, to conformity, to the unwritten iiiles, 
and mores of die "Church," cell or accountability group. 

"Therefore let no one act as youi" judge in regard to food or 
drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath 
day" (Colossians 2:16). "Do not speak against one another, 
brethren. He who speaks agamst a brother ...but who are you to 
judge your neighbour?" (James 4:11-12). "At the same time they 
also learn to be idle, as they go around from house to house, and not 
merely idle, but also gossips and busybodies, talking about tilings not 
proper to mention" (I Tim 5:13). Mutual subjection does not give 
one another the right to probe. We are to love one another not 
meddle, control, or adjust. Cliristians properly built and knitted 
together m the Spirit will automatically open and share dungs as tlie 
Spirit leads and directs. We are likened to a family-not a corporation 
or an ai'my. We are an organism-not an organisation. A family 
fosters a loving and supportive enviroiiment-not the tyi'anny of 
accountability. Each local church or assembly is like a family. It is 
independent-self-govemmg, with Cliiist as tlie head. There is no 
hierarchy of churches; diere are no apostles overseeing a city. There 
is no idea of submitting to someone for a "covering." 


There is something particularly seductive about the apostles and 
prophets movement. It sovrnds "properly" anti-establishment and has 
the flavoui" and allure of a truly New Testament "early church" 
solution to the deadness and stultifying nature of the h'aditional 
institutional chvirch, especially when combined witli a "Meta 
Church" zeal for the gospel or tlie "Cell Church" model which 
promises the intimacy and opportunity of the free wheeling house 
church. But m tlie end, it leads one mto an even greater apostasy-an 
informal system of bramwasliing, peer pressiu'e, and control. It 
becomes a well-oiled hierarchy that is militant and tightly governed. 
The web of the Meta chiii'ches, cell churches, apostles, and prophets 
is all intercomiected. These are tlie leaders of apostate Christianity. 

These apostles and prophets do not want to simply establish 
themselves as self-styled leaders. It is to bring tlie kingdom of God 
to the earth. It is domuiion teaching; tliey see a way to brmg that 
dommion tlii'ough an alliance with a government tliat seems to share 
their agenda-witli a country tliat seems to have a "mamfest destmy" 
and callmg by God to bless tlie nations of the earth. As this 
movement builds momentum and many churches adopt such 
teaching the Biblical centred chiii'ches will again be persecuted. 
However, this time not from the World but from the "church." 


The old but still widely-held Linderstanduig of tlie teiin "apostle" 
restricts this ministry to a few persons in the fit'st centiiry. As the 
twelve plus Paul were appomted by flie risen Christ as uniquely 
authoritative teachers and evangelists, tliey ai'e not models for otliers 
to follow-except in tlie broadest sense. The new and more accLirate 
understanding, on tlie othei hand, allows the Bible to speak more 
directly and much more applicably to the contemporaiy situation. It 
is true that tlie twelve held a unique, one-for-all role as die 
autlienticatmg witnesses of the Word which brought the post- 
Pentecost Church into existence but the Gospels also showed that the 
twelve were first and foremost-as far as Jesus was concerned in his 

They were his closest companions whom he taught and 
trained and who formed the nucleus of the first community in which 
Jesus was Loid. The twelve therefore are not to be seen simply as an 
interesting group who belong to the past but rather as a model for 
discipleship and church membership for all time. Though dead, they 
still speak. The Gospel writers record tlie numerous stones about the 
disciples, not as historians with a rove for the past, but as evangelists 
who wanted the past to speak contemporaneously. They wanted men 
and women who read what they had written to hear afresh tlie call to 
become a disciple and to see ui the disciples something of what 
discipleship will always mean.-""* Paul was the last to have seen the 

It is of interest to note that Bern ai'd Cooke, Mini stiy to Word and Sacraments (Philadelphia: 
Fortress, 1980), 206, 213, wiitiug from witliiii the Roman Catholic tiaditiou also argues that we 

risen Jesus (1 Cor. 15:8) aiid he was personally coinmissioned for a 
specific task (Acts 9:15, 22:21, Gal. 16). But as we have seen, Paul 
gladly called otliers by tlie title "apostle." We have concluded tliat 
these people involved m pioneer evangelism in the Hellenistic world. 
Some of those mentioned-or all of tliem-had not seen tlie risen 

need to encourage aud recoguise the ministry of jostle, in this wider sense of the tenn, in the 
chinch today. 


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foundation and contenipoi'ai'y teaching on tiie nature and 

niinistty of these niadern-day apostles, hi sa doing, 

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BrejltJon NiLickt^r is s Soulh Afrit::aij rersirliii^ in^ 

XJiiittai Kjiig^fioiii. Mt; is tJit: iliifcttn o/ I^iiitiit-i^ 

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ediicatiiig^, Aiitl etnisiuiiiit^ djfiristiaiis. Mg is a gTa.dii2t.c 

ot (Dml RahtTitJs ITjififrfsifv and /jiLs cainp}t^t.tfcl ^ 

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M..\ 1 ]j. H^\ lit (/ifMW>. Ck-nlli-